The team at Yahoo! Labs used crowdsourced opinions and mined data to find the routes which are "not only short, but also emotionally pleasant," according to Technology Review.
Initially, the team used the site UrbanGems.org to crowdsource which areas in London were the most pleasant by having users pick the most beautiful between two pictures. They then plotted courses based on the highest rated images. Researchers soon realized it would take too long to do this for all cities and turned to the image sharing site Flickr to fill in the gaps. While a normal mapping algorithm will find the shortest distance, the Yahoo! one pulls location and date data from Flickr to identity routes which are often photographed and receive multiple positive comments relating to the images.
Using this method, the team should be able to find the most pleasant route in any city. When they sent residents of London and their second test city, Boston, to check out the routes plotted by the algorithm they reported the the new paths were more enjoyable than the quickest route.
These more pleasant drives or walks won't cost you much on time, either. On average, the scenic routes are just about 12 percent longer than the direct routes. The team is hoping to come out with an app that will plot these pleasure cruises in major European and American cities soon.