An AI-powered chatbot on Facebook’s Messenger platform is being used to help passengers to book private hire vehicles in the UK.

The chatbot, created by Autocab, has received recognition for the technology after it won ‘Best use of webchat/AI/Robotics’ at the Engage Awards.

Using the Facebook Messenger app on their smartphones, customers can interact with the chatbot, which is also able to answer questions such as “Where is my taxi?” and “How much will my ride cost?”

Available to customers 24 hours a day, the automated technology not only provides customers with quick replies, it also efficiently collects key information designed to improve the customer journey and help firms speed up the dispatch process.  

The company was established in 1991 to commercialise a hardware-based booking and dispatch system first developed by computer scientist Dr Falah Abod to help his friends in the taxi industry.

Aqeel Arshad, Operations Director at StreetCars Manchester, one of the first private hire companies to introduce the new tech earlier this year, said: “We’re always looking at how we can stay ahead of the curve when it comes to technology.

“With Facebook being the largest social media platform, most of our customers will already have the Facebook Messenger app downloaded – this makes booking a ride even easier and quicker for them.”

Safa Alkateb, CEO at Autocab, added: “This chatbot is about helping private hire firms capture the next generation of tech-savvy travellers. There’s been a definite rise in the number of people booking digitally as opposed to via phone call. This is the next step in that journey.

The chatbot is part of a larger taxi technology offering being developed by Stockport-based Autocab, which is supplying software as a service (SaaS) solutions, primarily to the private hire and taxi industry.

Its booking and dispatch tech processes more than one million ‘trips’ around the world each day.