Updated February 19 with company comments
A driver lost the ability to start and drive his app-powered car after losing cell service, leaving it stranded on a mountain side in rural California for six hours. In the end, the main problem turned out to be a software glitch and the car had to be restarted.
The Internet of Things is striking again.
So does the ability of “smart” devices to fail quite obviously.
Kari Paul rented a car from the carsharing service Concert car sharing, which uses an app to reserve a vehicle, unlock it, and drive off. But she drove to rural California, parked at the side of a mountain road, and lost cell service. And that meant that the car powered by the app refused to start. Apparently the car – like ET – has to “call home” every few hours to reset, according to Paul.
And, without adequate cell service, the car refused to start after being parked.
Today in the struggles of the sharing economy: our app-powered car rental service lost cell service on a mountainside in the California countryside and now I live here I guess
According to the Gig Car Share website, carpooling on the service works like buying a Lime scooter: check the app to find a car, book it, and if it’s available, pick it up. You can unlock it from your phone or by using a “Gig Card”.
The Gig Card is specially designed to work when you are in an area without cellular service.
[The Gig Card] will lock and unlock your car without cell service! Don’t leave town without one. No one wants to be towed or stranded.
The Gig Card uses RFID technology to reserve and unlock cars. Unfortunately in this case it didn’t work, at least initially. Paul was finally able to turn the car back on after a long process, but the company told him that it had reached the end of its “allocated restarts” and therefore could not turn it off, which meant it was had to go home without stopping. .
Six hours two tow trucks and 20 customer service calls later it was apparently a software glitch and the car had to be restarted before it could be used @internetofshit
Others commenting on Paul’s tweets said that they had received good service from Gig Car Share, so it is clear that the service is working well under certain circumstances. Just as clearly, however, there are cases where this is not the case.
The company’s plan is understandable: If you had investments of $ 25,000 parked on random streets across a state, you’d probably want to know where they were, too, and be able to control them somewhat if they were. stolen.
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It is equally understandable, however, that there will be instances where there will be no cell service for an extended period. And the car must work for these scenarios as well.
I asked Gig Car Share for their side of the story, and they assured me that they wouldn’t just refund Paul his money and provide him with future credits. Additionally, a representative said it was likely a combination of a lack of cellular service and Bluetooth connectivity that was causing the problem.
“Concert cars require cellular service, Bluetooth or a Gig card to work,” Sergio Avila, a public relations representative for Gig Car Share, told me by email. “Considering its remote location, we believe the lack of cell service and bluetooth connectivity issues were at the heart. Syncing a Gig car once every 24 hours does not limit the vehicle’s ability to function properly.
Additionally, there may have been some confusion over how many restarts a Gig Car Share car can have between the company’s customer service and Paul.
“Our members can start and stop the engine of a Gig car as many times as needed. This may have been confusing given the term ‘allocated restarts’ this may refer to our GIG Member Support team who are available 24/7 to restart all engine technology. of any Gig car twice in a 24 hour period. “
Either way, the company plans to examine the incident in detail and improve procedures and services. The company also sends Paul a free Gig Card, which allows access without cellular service.