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Reinventing the Wheels Getaround combines the car rental business with mobile technology and environmental awareness.

By Joel Holland

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Reinventing the WheelsJessica Scorpio was a grad student at Singularity University--a sort of futurist boot camp on the old NASA Ames base near Mountain View, Calif.,--and the challenge was this: build a company that would have a positive effect on a billion people during the next 10 years.

She and the nine other members of her team decided to focus on energy and the environment. "Since the transportation industry hasn't really changed much in the past 50 years," says Scorpio, 23, "we thought it was pretty ripe for some innovation."

During research, the group noticed that the basic model of car ownership created a lot of waste. Just think about it: Most cars sit idle for the majority of their existence. So the group brainstormed and came up with the idea of person-to-person car sharing. Scorpio and her team worked feverishly for a month to develop a prototype. From that came their biggest feat: Creating a small geo-locating hardware device that sits in a vehicle and communicates with smartphones to control access.