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Hertz Trial Uses RFID Cards Instead of Keys

A rental facility in Nice, France, is testing how the technology might make renting a car faster and easier.
By Jonathan Collins
Aug 09, 2006Sixty specially selected Hertz customers are using RFID-enabled frequent-user cards to speed up their car rentals at Nice Côte d'Azur Airport in France. The service is part of a trial to test how RFID might make the process of renting a car faster and more convenient.

“The impetus behind the trial is to provide a more seamless travel experience for Hertz and Air France customers,” says David Trimm, vice president of business systems at Hertz Europe.

David Trimm, Hertz Europe
The trial involves 10 specially equipped Renault Mégane cars. It will run for six months and is due to end in October.

Hertz has long offered its Gold Club members a special fast-track service for picking up rental cars. This service includes a display board indicating where the car is parked, as well as a dedicated counter where members can obtain keys and finalize the rental process. The new RFID system, however, does not require any counter stops. Instead, renters can go straight through the office to their car, where they can accept the rental and drive away without having to call on any Hertz staff members.

Instead of stopping at a counter, a customer looks at the display board to learn the location of the rental car, then goes straight to the car and places an RFID-enabled Hertz Accessplus Next Generation membership card within a few inches of the windscreen’s RFID interrogator antenna. The interrogator reads the unique ID number stored on the card’s embedded Philips Semiconductors Mifare RFID chip, which operates at 13.56 MHz and conforms to the ISO standard 14443 for contactless smart cards.

Upon verifying that the customer is picking up the correct car, an onboard computer unlocks the vehicle’s doors. Before the customer can drive the car away, a computer display screen, attached to the rear view mirror, asks if the driver has a valid license. If the answer is yes, a vehicle immobilizer allows the car to start with the push of the ignition button.

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