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Car sharing firm unveils iPhone vehicle unlocking app

Antony Savvas | Nov. 18, 2013
Previously customers swiped a smart card to open cars

A car sharing company has launched a new iPhone app which allows car users to unlock cars and complete booking procedures.

The new app developed by Parallax for City Car Club provides their members with a new booking management system, from planning a booking, getting directions to their closest vehicle, extending bookings, and even locking/unlocking the car from within the app.

City Car Club is the UK's largest independent car sharing organisation in the UK with over 29,000 members. Cars and vans are available in 16 different cities to rent on the street from just £4.95 an hour including fuel, giving residents and businesses a cheaper alternative to car ownership.

In order to drive a City Car Club vehicle members must make a booking online. They then gain access to the vehicle by swiping their membership smart card over the telematics hardware located in the left corner of the windscreen.

This then relays a message back to City Car Club's vehicle management system confirming the member's booking and unlocking the vehicle.

The addition of the app streamlines the booking process by allowing members to find, book, locate and unlock the vehicle from within the app.

The main difficulty Parallax faced when building this app was integrating it with City Car Club's complex vehicle management system that tells the cars when they are booked and who should be able to access them.

The solution was to write a bespoke API that handles all of the booking information on a separate intermediary server, which then passes on all the relevant information to the main system quickly and securely.

An Android version of the app is currently in development.


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