Social Bicycles: Bikeshare Everywhere
Social Bicycles: Bikeshare Everywhere
We are building a GPS enabled bike that you can find and unlock using your mobile phone.
We are building a GPS enabled bike that you can find and unlock using your mobile phone. Read more
About this project
Even though we did not hit our Kickstarter funding goal, it was still a great month for Social Bicycles. We received amazing press coverage, picked up our prototype bike frame, and found a few new potential investors and operating partners. SoBi will keep on rolling with an SBA loan and we are close to securing additional funding that will help us bring this product to market.
Thanks for your support and please continue to follow our progress at www.socialbicycles.com and facebook.com/socialbicycles. We are committed to bringing you the world's most affordable and scalable bike share system, and are still on track for demos this fall and pilots next spring!
We need your help to introduce a flexible, scalable, and affordable bike sharing system that makes cycling more accessible and interactive.
Over the last few years, bike sharing has spread across the world and become a new transportation alternative in cities such as Paris, London, Washington DC, Montreal, and Denver. Unfortunately, these station-based systems require a large investment in infrastructure and typically cost between $4000-$5000 per bicycle to install. Our goal is to use mobile technology to create a solution that works with regular bike racks and dramatically lowers the cost of bike share systems.
What is a Social Bicycle?
We are building the world's first bicycle with an on-board computer, mobile communications, and integrated GPS-enabled lock. Social Cyclists will be able to find and unlock bikes using their mobile phones, or unlock them by entering their account information into the keypad on the lockbox.
Data collection and visualization
Not only is our approach more affordable and convenient, it allows for more comprehensive collection and analysis of bike trip data. Users will be able to view and share personal maps and statistics, and city planners can aggregate this data to improve the bike lane network. There have already been some amazing data visualizations to come out of traditional bike share systems (see below). Can you imagine what could be produced with the real-time GPS location of every bike? We can even add additional sensors to track noise and air pollution!
From prototype to production-ready design
Over the last year, our team of industrial designers, engineers, and software developers have built a working prototype of the lock attachment. We've spent the last 6 months redesigning the product and integrating the lock into our own custom bike frame.
This streamlined design increases security and greatly reduces the cost and weight. In addition to the GPS-enabled lock, our bike features:
* A shaft drive transmission - no chain to maintain!
* 3 speed Shimano hub
* Adjustable but non-removable seat
* Integrated lighting
* Hub dynamo and a 2W 6V solar panel provided by Voltaic Systems to provide power to electronics and lights.
We are on Kickstarter to take this design into production. We need funding to produce the molds for our injection molded parts and extruded housing. We also need funding to finish our PCB board design/fabrication and software engineering.
Pilot programs and system launch
Any money that we raise above our goal will be put toward our first pilot programs. We are building a pilot fleet of 60 bikes to be completed by the end of this year and expect commercial systems to launch early in 2012. The bikes will be sold to independent operators at a wide range of scales and even directly to consumers that want to create peer-to-peer networks.
We have had serious interest from cities and universities all over the world, including places like San Francisco-CA, Portland-OR, Bloomington-IN, and Buffalo-NY. We're excited to get the bikes out on the street and test them out in the real world!
Thank you so much for your support. Your contribution to this project can potentially have global impact on public health and the environment. If you pledge $50 or more, we'll send a Social Bicycles t-shirt designed by Bob Jordan. This shirt features a QR code on the back which will allow you to see a 3D model of our bike through the daqri AR iPhone application.
We placed an order with the bike factory for our first 60 bikes and expect delivery by early October. We still have a lot of work to do on the web portal and bike software, but we expect a commercially available product by early 2012.
Part of the reason we are on Kickstarter is to gauge demand and identify potential markets. By backing our project, you will help put your city or university on the map.
We have spoken with potential operators all over the world and have had serious interest from places like San Francisco-CA, Portland-OR, Bloomington-IN, and Buffalo-NY. If you are interested in operating a SoBi system, please email us at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will certainly be testing the product here, but for a citywide deployment, we need to work with the Department of Transportation. The DOT issued an RFP last year and will likely select a vendor soon. We entered a proposal with B-Cycle and are awaiting a response from the City.
The cost may vary from market to market, depending on the operator. The great part of our product is that it can serve multiple markets.
Social Bicycles would work at hotels and tourist destinations where you may pay a flat hourly rate, but would also work for citywide deployments that are subsidized by the government or operated by a non-profit. We're excited to unleash the creativity of social entrepreneurs around the world to determine the best pricing model for each market. But no matter where you access a bike, you'll do it using the same account using our website and mobile applications.
We like a membership + use model. For example:
$10/month to subscribe
1 hour of free time each day
$5 each additional hour.
P2P networks like Airbnb, Relay Rides, and Getaround are proving that people are willing to share in ways that were previously inconceivable. We think this product could be great for fraternities, sororities, co-ops, or other communal living quarters where one common bike could serve dozens of people.
That said, not everyone that buys a Social Bicycle will want to share it. Even without the sharing feature, a bike with an integrated GPS lock is pretty cool.
We have smart bikes, not smart racks. Our lock works with regular bike racks and does not rely on expensive kiosks and docking stations.
Like our system, Call-a-bike has a bike with integrated lock and their bikes can be left anywhere around the city. However, their bikes do not have GPS or communications capabilities. They have a lock that generates an unlock code according to a set algorithm and a server that keeps track of the unlock code for each bike. You enter a different unlock code each time, and when you are done, you have to tell them where you put the bike and what the new lock code is. Even though they've made this slightly easier with a mobile app, its still a cumbersome process.
You can find them on our apps or at set hub locations around the city. We have designed a simple system to limit the amount off staff time required to track down and redistribute bikes.
Redistribution of the bikes will mostly be handled by the users themselves through a dynamic incentive system. First we select the system zone and hub locations and set these boundaries in our database. When someone locks the bike outside of a hub location, they are charged a fee. This fee is posted to the map and the next person to take the bike and return it to a hub receives a credit. This ensures that bikes are consistently returned to hubs, but allows the flexibility to bike directly to any destination within the system area. However, if someone locks up outside the system zone, they would be charged a larger recovery fee for taking the bike too far from the system core.
No, you do not need a phone to access the bikes. Simply enter your entire account number and pincode into the keypad on the lockbox, and the bike will send your information to the server for authorization.
We are also working on text, automated call, and RFID-based access paths.
Friends and family (thanks Mom!) and blood, sweat, and tears.
We may take on investors after the close of the Kickstarter campaign - it just depends on how much we raise!
Yes, it is just like using the ATM!
We filed for a patent on the system in June of 2009. This technology is patent pending in the United States, Canada, and Europe.
Individuals, organizations, or companies can now become SoBi Beta Partners. Since our system is scalable, this opportunity works for many types of partners – a student association, non-profit, bike shop, corporate campus, or transit authority.
This program will allow you to lease SoBi beta bikes to test and help build community support to launch a full-scale system. Each bike will be $1500 for a 3-year term. You can receive multiple bikes by pledging an additional $1500/bike.
As a backer through Kickstarter, we will include 3 years of wireless connectivity and service. Additional contractual terms will be required, including an NDA, since you will be receiving early access to the product.
Our first fleet of 60 bikes will be ready by October, however, you may not receive your bike until spring of 2012.
The high rates of theft and vandalism reported by the Velib system in Paris have not been observed in North American systems.
Our bikes will feature non-removable parts and the locking mechanism is pry and pick resistant. The bike is of distinctive design and will be easily identifiable if stolen. In addition, a thief would not only have to defeat the mechanical lock, they would also have to disable the GPS tracking.
Ultimately, any lock can be broken with the right tools and enough time. Maybe it's naive, but we are hoping that by creating a strong community, people will be more likely to respect and protect the bikes.
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