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Berlin researchers developing high-tech hitch-hiking service

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Researchers in Germany are developing a mobile ride-sharing service that could turn every car into a make-shift taxi.

While the concept of car-sharing is not new, OpenRide (English translation) – which is being developed at the Berlin-based Fraunhofer Fokus research institute – harnesses the growing popularity of GPS technology in cars and personal mobile devices to match cars with commuters at almost no notice.

Here’s how it works. Drivers who are already behind the wheel enter their route destination on their mobile phone. A central server tracks the vehicle and matches it with commuter ride requests. If a match is found, the driver is notified and has the option of collecting the passenger. The two parties negotiate the fair.

The researchers have indicated that they are looking to incorporate an eBay-type user rating system to increase safety and a sense of community control.

OpenRide should be ready for market release next year.

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