October 24, 2012 | Written by: Marcus Erber
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Last Saturday I finally registered my membership for car2go. You might have seen the white and blue Smart-cars in selected cities. Car2go basically is a car sharing offering, however, what fascinates me about it is the full integration with advanced computing and cloud technologies that brings a real value for me as a member.
I have to admit that my curiosity about how they managed to bring all these technologies together was one of my main motivations to join. I own a car, a motorbike and public transport in my hometown Vienna is definitely one of the best worldwide. so I am not really dependent on another transport option; however, the whole concept of a car sharing offering, well integrated with the Internet and mobile devices, caught my attention. Beside the fact that I always wanted to know what it is to drive a Smart-car and that is definitely one of the cheapest ways to do that.
Registrations is simple as it can be, you fill out a web form and the you just need to stop by the car2go shop to show your drivers license and pick up your membership card. Not really extraordinary until that, but now it starts getting thrilling almost as described by Sebastian in his blog post about driving as a service.
You either look on the Internet or you use the car2go smartphone app to check out where the nearest free car is parked. You see that on a GoogleMap overlay. You can then choose to reserve a car simply by clicking on it in the map. It will then be set to occupied for the next 30 minutes so that you can comfortably walk to it and check it. Checking in means you put your Near Field Communication (NFC) equipped membership card on the windshield’s lower left corner where a device in the car reads out the data from that membership card and after validation unlocks the car for you.
Because the key is in the car you can then just drive around while a fee per minute is charged to your account, regardless how many kilometers you drive. The fee is quite reasonable.
Of course, the car2go area is limited. You can drive outside that area, but you can checkout only when within the boundaries. The car always knows its exact position and sends that to the central systems. Checking out is as easy as checking in. You just place your membership card on that space on the windshield and the car is locked. As soon as you check out, the car is immediately shown as available on the maps with its exact position!
I would really like to see more of these kind of offerings. It indeed shows what ‘smarter computing’ can do for you in your day to day life!