Exploring OSRM: A Comprehensive Guide to Open Source Routing Machine

If you have ever used a navigation app, you likely benefited from a routing engine that finds the best possible route between two points. Open Source Routing Machine (OSRM) is a popular routing engine used with OpenStreetMap (OSM) data. OSRM is written in C++ and uses an algorithm called Contraction Hierarchies (CH) to calculate routes quickly. In this blog post, we will explore OSRM and its features.

What is OSRM?

OSRM is a routing engine designed to find the fastest or shortest route between two points on a map, using OSM data. It is open-source software that can be customized according to user needs.


  • Customizable Profiles: OSRM allows users to create customizable profiles, which define how the routing engine will treat different types of roads such as highways, streets, and alleys. Users can customize profiles to prioritize certain types of roads or avoid others based on their specific needs.
  • Multiple Transport Modes: OSRM can be used with different transport modes such as driving, cycling, walking, and even wheelchair routing. This makes it a versatile tool for different types of users, including individuals, businesses, and government agencies.
  • Server Setup: OSRM can be set up on a server to provide routing services for applications. Developers can use OSRM to create routing functionality in their own applications.
  • Querying Data: OSRM allows users to query routing data using an API. Developers can retrieve data from OSRM and use it in their own applications.

How to Use OSRM

Using OSRM is relatively straightforward. The first step is to download OSM data for the area you want to cover. You can then use the OSRM backend to generate a routing graph, which is essentially a network of roads and intersections. Once you have generated the routing graph, you can start making routing queries using the OSRM API.

Top 5 Open Source Routing Engines

Here are the top 5 open source routing engines:

  1. Open Source Routing Machine (OSRM)
  2. GraphHopper
  3. Valhalla
  4. Gosmore
  5. BRouter

OSRM vs Google Maps: Which is Better?

Both OSRM and Google Maps have their pros and cons, depending on the user’s specific needs. Here’s a comparison:

  • Customizability: OSRM allows for customizable profiles, whereas Google Maps does not.
  • Cost: OSRM is free and open source, while Google Maps has pricing plans based on usage.
  • Data Privacy: OSRM does not track user data, while Google Maps collects and stores user data.
  • Accuracy: Google Maps has a larger dataset and more frequent updates, which can make it more accurate in some cases.
  • Flexibility: OSRM can be used with multiple transport modes, while Google Maps is primarily focused on driving and public transportation.


OSRM is a powerful routing engine that provides a lot of flexibility for users. With customizable profiles and support for multiple transport modes, it can be used in a wide range of applications. If you are interested in using OSRM for your own projects, there is an active community of developers who can help you get started. Overall, the choice between OSRM and Google Maps depends on the specific needs of the user. OSRM is a great option for those who require customizability and privacy, while Google Maps may be a better option for those who prioritize accuracy and flexibility.

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