Human Journey

Dude, Where’s my Ride? Real-Time Ridesharing App Coming

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Looking for a last-minute ride downtown? Soon, there will be an app for that.

German researchers have developed the OpenRide mobile ridesharing service, which allows users to search for carpooling opportunities instantly via their cell phone.

Just open the app on your phone, enter your starting and finishing points and the number of people going, and send the request to the OpenRide server, where an “intelligent” search engine will match the request with availability.

Matching offers show up in real-time, giving you the driver’s name and estimated pickup time.

On the flip side, drivers already on the road can also notify OpenRide that they’re available to offer lifts.

Since most carpools tend to cater to workday schedules, Open Ride would open up a new market for spontaneous, shorter trips, project manager Matthias Flügge, of the Franhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems, said in a statement.

OpenRide, which was presented at the TecWatch technology forum in Berlin last week, will likely hit the market in 2010.

Ride-sharing, or carpooling, has long been touted as a win-win method of commuting: You both save gas money and reduce emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases.

For instance, a sample commuter with a 60-mile (96.6-kilometer) daily commute saves about U.S. $4,387 each year in a two-person carpool versus commuting alone, according to RideFinders, a carpooling Web site that serves the greater St. Louis, Missouri, region.

RideFinders lets you calculate your own commute with its online savings worksheet. Also check out AAA’s 2009 report Your Driving Costs.

Several U.S. regions already offer online matching services, including <a href="RideFinders.

eRideshare.com has a bigger reach, having organized more than 15,000 ongoing carpools. I entered my zipcode into their search function and found 481 listings for potential carpools in my area.

Other rideshare Web sites includeCarpoolconnect.com and Carpoolworld.com—and the best part is, most are free.

Of course you don’t want to take a ride from just anyone—so be sure to check out Rideshare.com’s tips for safe carpooling.

See you in the HOV lane!

Christine Dell’Amore

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Related:

–How green is your road trip?

–Ready, set, green—make your journeys ecofriendly by visiting Green Guide’s responsible travel hub.

Christine Dell'Amore, environment writer/editor for National Geographic News, has reported from six continents, including Antarctica. She has also written for Smithsonian magazine and the Washington Post. Christine holds a masters degree in journalism with a specialty in environmental reporting from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her book, South Pole, was published in 2012.

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