What happens when the clever builders at Vonage Garage get a hold of the Nexmo Platform? Innovation, that’s what. Case in point: Tzahi Efrati, Senior Director of Innovation at Vonage, used the Nexmo SMS API, the Google Geocoding API, API.AI, and our virtual numbers to develop a conversational ride-hailing application with a chatbot interface (a “cab bot” if you will). The app allows users to book a ride from their native messaging applications. Check out this demo.
To start, the user texts the cab bot a greeting like he would a real person. The bot replies with a natural conversation. Next, he asks the cab bot to book him a ride and provides the location where he needs to be picked up. The bot confirms the address and asks where the user is going. The user enters his destination and the cab bot confirms that the ride is booked and provides the user with the driver’s name and the pickup vehicle’s license plate number.
Inside the Cab Bot
When the cab bot received the pickup and destination locations, it used the Google Geocoding API to extract the full addresses from only partial information, i.e. “2nd and Howard Street SF” translated to “2nd St & Howard St, San Francisco, CA 94105, USA” and “UNION SQUARE SF” converted to “Union Square, 333 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94108, USA.” Note that although the demo is set in San Francisco, it would work anywhere in the world thanks to the availability of international phone numbers from Nexmo.
API.AI maps unstructured text to the user’s intent. For example, had the user messaged “I need a ride” it would have mapped to the intent “book a ride.” The Nexmo SMS API would have then relayed that information, initiating the exchange that resulted in a car ride. While Tzahi used API.AI, a similar natural language processing (NLP) engine, such as Amazon Lex, could be used instead.
Get the Code, Build Something Cool
In order to make the most of this application for transportation, it can be integrated with a ride-hailing service, such as Uber, Lyft, or Gett, to complete the car booking transaction. This is just one application of the technology, however. You can use it for virtually anything you would want a chatbot to do, such as fetching business information and making restaurant reservations.
We invite you to create your own chatbot using the open sourced cab bot code and a Nexmo account (you can get started for free). We can’t wait to see what you come up with, so be sure to share your bot with us on twitter (@Nexmo and @Vonage). Use the hashtag #cabBot.