An app named Carma won Onstar‘s second Student Developer Challenge. Developed by Vineet Gopal, Joshua Ma, and Max Kolysh, three students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Carma attempts to solve the ever-growing problem of motor vehicle pooling.
In a nuthsell, Carma lets drivers of OnStar-equipped vehicles accept ride sharing requests from stranded students on a website, where drivers can connect with those in need of a ride (by sharing their routes in hopes of finding someone to ride alone with); those without transportation are able to submit ride requests that an OnStar driver can accept or decline. In effect, Carma would replace, reduce, or greatly streamline the process of posting pleas for rides in college residence halls (and elsewhere).
During the Developer Challenge, students had six weeks (starting in May) to create “”the next cool voice-based app” using OnStar’s data model and could freely pick their choice of voice platform while using OnStar’s API (Application Programming Interface) that was announced at CES in January. Their submissions were reviewed by a panel of executives that judged each of the entries on the factors of responsible connectivity, informed driving and location-based data. The winning team received a $10,000 OnStar Student Developer Dream package.
Recently, OnStar announced a partnership with RelayRides — a firm that enables owners of OnStar-equipped vehicles to rent their cars using the telematics system — giving them the ability to potentially earn rental money on a monthly basis.
The GM Authority Take
By building a cellular connection as well as GPS module into each vehicle, GM and OnStar have a monumental competitive advantage compared to competitors that, by far and large, skimp building the equipment into the car itself (read: Ford). Carma may seem like a small and insignificant step, but we can already see a future where systems such as OnStar and third-party apps like Carma play an increasingly important role in using vehicles to meet the transpiration needs of current and future generations.