Microsoft has launched the Bing Maps Distance Matrix API, a new API that returns the travel times and distances between a set of origins and destinations. Travel times and distances are based on the routes calculated by the Bing Maps Route API. Times are also dependent on the specified start time and based on predictive traffic information. The Bing Maps Distance Matrix API is capable of generating distance matrices which are often used in applications to solve the Traveling Salesman Problem (TSP) and Vehicle Routing Problem (VRP). The API can be used by developers for a variety of applications including (but not limited to) sorting search results based on travel time or travel distance, figuring out the difference in commute times between a set of locations, and determining arrival times based on based on travel times.
Using the Bing Maps Distance Matrix API, applications can return the best route for a given set of locations. The API determines the best order of stops from analyzing the trip parameters such as time or distance, start and end time, and predicted traffic. The API also factors in the mode of transportation such as driving, walking, and public transit. The API includes the option to specify a distance matrix (for driving mode) with a travel-time histogram. The API is capable of calculating both TSP (single user) and VRP (fleet of vehicles). Considerations for route optimization include (but not limited to) pickup and delivery locations, time windows, split deliveries, and vehicle capacity.