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Hitchiking: swap your thumb for your mobile phone

A team at the University of Girona and the firm Easy Innova design a new application that helps people find car rides quickly and easily.

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20 December 2010 06:55 PM

by

ACN / Xavier Pi

Girona (ACN).- You won't need to use your thumb to hitchhike anymore. The University of Girona and the firm Easy Innova have designed a new way to hitchhike using mobile phones to get a ride. The system connects users through a GPS system. If a person needs a ride, he needs only send a message to other users and one with the nearest car will be directed to pick the 'hitchhiker' up. The system, called 'e-hitchhiking', has been tested for more than nine months and will be implemented all around the University of Girona campus next year, where more than 15.000 people will be able to use it.


When developing 'e-hitchhiking', researchers at the university and Easy Innova paid special attention to the potential of 2.0 Internet tools and GPS systems. The application immediately connects all users with or without cars, and sends messages between them as soon as someone needs a ride.

A hitchhiker can see the exact location of all users' cars on his phone. If he needs a ride, he just has to send a message to the driver and wait for the car to pick him up.

 The system is completely innovative. It is a considerable improvement on previous systems where users had to arrange lifts long before actually being picked up. The University of Girona has been using a car-sharing system for the past 12 years, but it required users to contact each other through email, usually the day before the trip.

'The advantages of this system, now, are its flexibility and immediacy. Users receive all the information in real time, and contact is quicker and easier', said the director of the Green Office of the University, Pep Juandó. The new system for hitchhiking even provides information on the most punctual and efficient drivers.

In the last nine months, up to a hundred students and professors at the University of Girona have been using the system. Together, 2.500 rides were taken, and everyone was satisfied. Every user had a mobile phone with a GPS. 'In total, they share almost 60.000 kilometers, which means a reduction of nine tons of CO2', Juandó said. In a poll, up to 84% of users said that the system was 'good' or 'very good'.

One of the users, computer science student Marc Verdaguer, said that the 'e- hitchhiking' helped him 'to meet new people, share experiences and save petrol'. Moreover, one of his drivers was a professor at his course, giving Marc the opportunity 'to know him better'.

Next year, the electronic hitchhiking system will be implemented all around the university campus, where up to 1.500 people will be able to use it. The device could also be tried in other locations, such as industrial areas.

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  • A mobile phone device to help hitchiking (by Universitat de Girona)

  • A mobile phone device to help hitchiking (by Universitat de Girona)
Hitchiking: swap your thumb for your mobile phone