I’ve had Automatic for a few years now and it’s quietly been collecting a wealth of information about my driving habits. Usually, I’ve never had too much reason to want to use it in great detail, but after my cross-country road trip, moving from St. Petersburg, FL to Portland, OR, I really wanted to recall my route and use it to illustrate my travels.
I didn’t know until I started digging into it just how hard that is to do. Automatic stores the paths (routes) that you take as an encoded polyline, which makes sense for them, as it reduces the size of this information considerably, however it makes the data really hard to utilise and manipulate.
Here’s an example of what an encoded polyline looks like:
Any idea what to do with that? Yeah. Nor did I. But after some perseverance (because I really wanted to use that data from my 4,100-mile trip!), I figured out a solution.
Getting the data out of Automatic
Let’s start from the beginning. Automatic keeps a record of your trips and you can access this data from their dashboard. In order to download it so that you can use it, first call up the specific data from your history. For me, I did this by selecting all trips that occurred during the dates of my road trip.
After it pulls up all of the trips in question, you’ll have a list of trips at the right-hand side. You can then export the data for those trips by clicking on export and choosing “Export trips currently in trip list”.
Automatic will now spit out a CSV file for you. Now comes the tedious bit.
Converting polylines to a usable format
You can’t import polylines directly into a Google Maps, so you need to use an intermediate tool.
I wrote the top half of the article a couple of years ago now, so the details are actually a little bit fuzzy, but you need to use a combination of some Excel wizardry to get your polylines organised how you want them. Then, a tool such as geojson.io will help you import those polylines into a map and from there you can export them into a KML.
Once you have a KML file, you can import it into Google Maps (or any number of other programs) so that you can see and share your data.