Ola Maps to Krutrim AI: A Look at The Company's Move to In-House Platforms

Ola exited Google Maps and shifted to Ola Maps on July 6. In a blog post, the company said that Ola Maps was better suited for Indian markets and would help in serving the local needs of the people.
Ola CEO Bhavish Aggarwal
Ola CEO Bhavish Aggarwal

Nationalism. That seems to be the best way to describe Ola founder Bhavish Aggarwal’s recent posts on X (formerly Twitter). The Ola CEO recently announced that the ride-hailing platform is shifting to Ola Maps from Google Maps. 

There is more. Agarwal announced that they will offer free access to all its developers to Ola Maps on its artificial intelligence and cloud platform, Krutrim. He said that we have been mapping India with western apps for far too long and that they are unable to understand our particular difficulties, which include irregular roads, complicated traffic, changing urban areas, and street names. 

This isn’t the first time Agarwal has talked about the importance of having Indian-origin technology to compete with western competition. 

Nationalism and beyond 

During a panel discussion at the Global Tech Summit in Bengaluru, organised by Carnegie India in 2016, Sachin Bansal, co-founder of Flipkart Ltd., and Aggarwal said that India needs to establish a level playing field for start-ups to effectively compete against global companies with significantly larger capital. 

Aggarwal explained that the consumer Internet sector in India is experiencing an imbalance, where American and other non-Indian companies promote a narrative of innovation. However, despite the products being largely similar, the real competition revolves around capital, leading to market distortions. Agarwal was reportedly highlighting the need for protectionism in the economy. 

Bansal was also reportedly in discussions with several Indian entrepreneurs and influential investors to form a group that would advocate for the interests of Indian consumer Internet start-ups. 

Another argument that always prevails is that in a globalised world, it's not the country of origin that matters, but the product quality. That’s what Navneet Kapoor, president and managing director at Target India, said at the 2016 summit, where she highlighted that innovation knows no boundary. 

However, Agarwal’s argument has been loud. 

Exit Google Maps. Enters Ola Maps

Ola exited Google Maps and shifted to Ola Maps on July 6. In a blog post, the company said that Ola Maps was better suited for Indian markets and would help in serving the local needs of the people. 

The company mentioned in a blog post, “Our reliance on western mapping providers, for whom India wasn't a priority, severely limited our ability to implement these features.” 

While highlighting that western Maps fails to address challenges such as street names, urban changes, complex traffic, and non-standard roads, Agarwal mentioned that Ola Maps addresses these issues with AI-powered, India-specific algorithms. Ola Maps also uses real-time data from millions of vehicles, contributing significantly to open-source efforts with over 5 million edits last year, he added. 

This has allowed Ola Maps to outperform competitors in location accuracy, search accuracy, search latency, and ETA accuracy. In terms of data, the company claims that it uses diverse, real-time data from millions of vehicles, Ola S1's 360 cameras, government sources, OpenStreetMap, partnerships, and proprietary sources to ensure accurate mapping. 

The company claims that its data system is built using crowd-sourced geo-mapping information. In March this year, the ride-hailing platform introduced Ola Maps with its upgraded EV software, Move OS 4. According to the firm, since Ola Maps was included in MoveOS 4, the usage of on-device navigation has increased fourfold, and it was chosen as MoveOS 4's best feature in a recent survey. 

There is more. 

The Pronoun Politics and the Shift to Krutrim AI 

On May 22, Agarwal announced that they had completed their transition to Krutrim AI from cloud service provider Microsoft Azure. More than 2,500 people have already signed up for the company’s own AI assistant and cloud platform, Krutrim AI. 

On May 9, Aggarwal criticised LinkedIn for removing his post on pronoun illness, claiming their AI tool was enforcing a particular political stance on Indian users, which he considered harmful and manipulative. He suggested that India should develop its own technology and AI, warning that otherwise, "we’ll just be pawns in others' political objectives."

Read: Ola Completes Transition from Azure to Krutim AI, Promises Support for Other Developers

When Indian-origin social media platform Koo shut down recently, Agarwal once again emphasised that the country needs Indian-origin social media platforms. He added that recreating what’s already there won’t get us there. However, he has been criticised for his comments, with some citizens saying that the Ola and Uber business models are similar. It remains to be seen how Ola Maps and Krutrim AI will perform, but the wider discussion that stays is the rift between localisation and globalisation in the age of the internet. 

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