There are mobile apps for hailing black cars and taxis.
Now there’s an app for hitchhiking.
Sidecar is an Android app that launched today in San Francisco. It lets users flag down nearby strangers for rides; they can offer to donate money to the driver at the end of the trip.
The potential cash exchange is what makes Sidecar a legal service, unlike hitchhiking.
CEO Sunil Paul has secured funding from some impressive investors including Zynga’s Mark Pincus and SV Angel.
The app operates a lot like Uber. It shows a Google map of their person’s location and pulls up Sidecar drivers who are in the vicinity. Pick up and drop off locations can be selected. The app also shows the driver’s average going rate, their ratings from other riders, and which model car they’re driving.
Paul realises that sharing a ride with a stranger may not be the safest idea. He tells TechCrunch, “I want to build a service that I could put my sister into, my girlfriend into, my kids into, and not have to worry about it.”
To do that, Paul says all SideCar drivers go through background checks, licence and insurance verification processes.
There’s also a mutual driver/rider rating service. He’s already kicked out a few drivers and passengers from his service.
For an additional precaution, both the the driver and rider can send the car’s location to friends who can watch them approach the destination safely.