New application finds and orders nearest taxi

HAILING a cab will never be the same again.

A hi-tech Irish start-up company has developed a software package that allows people to find and order the nearest taxi with a few simple taps on their smartphone.

Cork-based software firm, Nixatel, said its Pickacab application will go live on the streets of Cork city in June.

But Nixatel chief executive Russell Quigley said the software can be “scaled up globally” to work anywhere in the world.

It will be rolled out to other Irish cities within a few months, and launched in Britain before the end of the year.

As of yesterday, 30 Cork-based taxi drivers have registered and more are signing up for free every day.

Mr Quigley said he is confident that its focus on convenience and safety will catch on fast.

“Pickacab is coming onto the market at a time when people are acutely aware of their personal safety,” he said.

“In light of recent controversy surrounding taxi driver regulation in Ireland, Pickacab will serve to protect both the user and the taxi driver, because the application is traceable.”

Nixatel, which is based at Cork Institute of Technology’s innovation hub, the Rubicon Centre, received support from its Genesis programme.

Pickacab works on the Safari browser application, which means it can work on any smartphone, laptops and tablets.

It is “location and real-time aware” and uses GPS to track the location of users and registered taxi drivers.

When you access Pickacab, you are presented with a map of your local area displaying nearby taxis.

The software tells you which cabs are available. You then tap on the taxi you want, before being presented with a window showing the driver’s photograph, their PSV licence, the languages they speak, their vehicle type and accepted payment methods.

The application then sends a request to the driver’s smartphone, giving them the option of accepting or rejecting the fare.

The service is free to the user, all journeys are traced, and a feature can send an email about when and where the fare was collected and dropped off.

To kick-start the service, Pickacab’s chief technical officer, Paul Higgins, has urged Cork taxi drivers to sign up for a “no strings attached” free month-long trial.

Drivers who pay a small refundable deposit will be provided with a smartphone but from July, drivers will pay €7.50 a week to be registered with the system. Tel: 021-2429557

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