Internet of Things is not a new word in the market anymore. A lot is talked about and built around it lately. It has got almost all industries under its influence and continues to grow for good in the coming years. Transportation, and now, the micro-mobility industry is incorporating the Internet of Things in its operations for the advancement in their solutions.
It is worth noting that IoT is changing the micro-mobility industry. People are now more aware and interested to explore shared mobility options. They are now understanding the drawbacks of having a personal vehicle and the advantages of having a shared one for the daily commute. For both, long and short types of distances, the companies are working on various models of vehicle-as-a-service. Under this comes micro-mobility, which mainly focuses on the journey within five miles. This segment of IoT in transportation is gaining traction lately and is a service in itself.
With the increasing number of organizations willing to explore this sector, there are various challenges in their way, to overcome. At every step of development and deployment of electric bikes, scooters, and cars, they face a new obstruction to deal with.
In our last two blogs, we have discussed the micro-mobility operations platform being introduced by the transportation companies, challenges faced by the micro-mobility programs, and incorporation of data analysis and machine learning in the industry. Now, let us discuss the issues faced by the micro-mobility industry and the way the Internet of Things is used to solve them.
Challenges in Micro-mobility and Solutions using IoT
Compliance With Updated Governmental Norms
With the increasing population and rising competition among the players, the deployment of the micro-mobility fleet is not easy anymore. There are certain regulations to follow that differ either city wise or even state-wise across the globe. And after the failure of some of the well-running transportation businesses, these regulations have become stricter. So, to comply with these regulations and then following them is an important hurdle faced by the companies. Some of the basic city laws include driving within the speed limit, parking laws, vehicle capping, etc.
To overcome these issues, companies need to track vehicle metrics, such as speed, time taken to reach the destination, which route is being followed, where the vehicle is parked, and so on. This can be achieved by installing IoT devices in vehicles, such as GPS trackers and sensors. Using these solutions, the vehicle can be wirelessly controlled to abide by the city regulations. These solutions also help them in finding the nearest dock in case of electric scooters and charging stations. In case of wrong parking, the IoT devices are now smart enough to notify the rider about the correct parking space that prompts them to park their vehicles in place.
Sharing of Data With Traffic Authorities Using IoT
In order to operate in the cities, the city traffic authorities need vehicle data, such as environmental conditions, traffic patterns, driving routes, speed limits, etc. It takes a very complex operation to only share the vehicle device data and to protect the rest of the other information. To provide this information to the vehicle companies, the Internet of Things has been a big help. With the stricter laws for data sharing, several micro-mobility service providers are collaborating with IoT firms to develop a solution that would easily share the filtered data. This step also is likely to maintain a cordial relationship between the city officials and vehicle companies to run their fleet on the streets.
Since the majority of micro-mobility operations take place through a mobile app, security issues and bugs in the software are the usual concerns, especially in electric bikes and scooters. These bugs cause several issues, for example, ending the ride midway, charging extra after the ride ends, not able to navigate properly through the route, and so on. In fact, as reported by a security research organization, once, hackers hacked the application and controlled the speed of your scooter or bike automatically. This, as reported, happened due to an error in the Bluetooth system.
Now, to overcome these issues, the micro-mobility service providers are now implementing over-the-air firmware. OTA firmware can be explained as wireless delivery of software to the mobile devices when needed to be updated or installed. It remotely updates the code on a remote device. This helps in consistently updating the software and its behavior, to improve the product.
Good Riding Behavior
This is another interesting addition to the advantages and usability of IoT in micro-mobility. Until a few years ago, riding behavior was never thought to be controlled or imbibed through technology, but in person. However, innovation and advancement have changed that. Now, one can help a rider improve its riding behavior remotely or wirelessly.
For example, Aron rides a scooter to his workplace. As a responsible citizen, he is expected to drive consciously, within the speed limits and within the designated lane. However, Aron is not always in his best form and sometimes rides rashly. And there are many people like Aron. This rash riding becomes a problem not only for him but also for the vehicle sharing firms, which can even result in imposing a ban on the micro-mobility operator companies.
To avoid this, the companies keep a track of vehicle behavior, which is mostly controlled by the rider. In case of any discrepancies, the operators send the notifications on the app or the connected device to draw riders attention to it, such as, if a scooter is cutting the lane, or wobbling, the internal IoT sensor detects it and prompt the rider to ride within the lane in a straight line. This feature is also helpful for the new riders who tend to be a bit unstable on the roads for the first few times.
Designing a Safe Micro-mobility Service
It becomes a responsibility of the micro-mobility service providing companies to keep their riders and drivers safe. With the correct IoT devices installed in the vehicle, this becomes quite easy for the companies to keep a track of whereabout and activities of the vehicles.
This has given rise to vehicle intelligence systems for the improved safety of the rider, driver, and passengers using the micro-mobility commute system. Other factors giving weightage to vehicle intelligence are stricter norms imposed by the government, rising traffic on roads, and surging cases of road accidents day by day. Besides, customers these days, also like to have an element of infotainment in their vehicles, with the implementation of technologies like route navigation, emergency alarm, driving assistance, etc.
So, the sensors to track the lane-cut, wobbling of scooters, and GPS trackers to get the correct navigation and the shortest and fastest route to reach the destinations are some of the IoT devices that would help in ensuring a safe micro-mobility service.
Vandalism and Theft: Preventing and Reporting
With the increasing cases of vehicle theft and vandalism, there arises an urgent need to have the technology to curb this. With the help of certain IoT sensors, the operators are able to keep a check on it. For this, we need an apt IoT device management system and hardware to develop the required features. Some of the key features in the connected IoT sensors are:
Prevention of Theft: Sensors can track the unusualness in the ride, or when the theft is detected, it can disable the movement of wheels to prevent it from being driven.
Remote Tracking: When standing idle, the sensors on the scooter map the surroundings and notify the case of vandalism when it takes place. This data is directly shared with the organization and traffic authorities, along with the rider of the vehicle. This helps in keeping a cordial and smooth relationship between the operators and city officials and helps in locating the place where the vandalism took place.
Power Tracking: This feature automatically activates the kill-switch of a scooter, when it detects the loss of power supply in one or more components, preventing the parts of the scooter to be stolen.
Scaling a Scooter or Bike-sharing Service
Every project is built from a perspective to scale further in the coming times. Nevertheless, it is one of the most difficult tasks as well. If you do not scale in the right direction, your product or service might fall flat eventually. And when it comes to scaling with IoT technology, the entire process is scaled rather than a single system, such as manufacturing capacity, data processing, operations, etc. So, it requires a very smart move to include another feature in the IoT device such that it would be significantly beneficial for the operators as well as the users. Choosing an inappropriate vendor can result in the incompatibility of the software or the device. Thus, working with a single IoT service provider is the best option in the given scenario, which would understand the entire requirement and design the changes and updates accordingly.
So, as a current innovation, micro-mobility as a service is currently aiming to integrate dockless electric bikes and scooters in the urban cities. These dockless vehicles technology use GPS trackers and sensors powered by IoT. Using these technologies and apps in their device, they locate the parking spaces, charging stations, and reserve the parking spot as well in some cases. It also shows the metrics such as distance traveled, nearest charging station, estimated time taken to complete the ride, cost of the ride, and so on. This information is also important for the micro-mobility operator companies to further upgrades and modification in the software and hardware to serve their users the best. Some of the leading names in the industry are working on developing a micro-mobility servicing infrastructure platform. These platforms are being designed to provide a network of charging stations, docks, and service stations for electric bikes and scooters.
Internet of Things has brought a huge scope of growth with it in every sector; micro-mobility being an important one. With more and more people adopting the technology, and a surging number of people migrating in the cities for employment, the traffic is sure to grow. For this, we need a solid transportation system that would not only help in the daily commute but would add to the environment with greater impact and benefits, and IoT is sure to contribute significantly.
Shoeb Ahmad, with an experience of 20 years in Digital World, heads Digital Marketing at Mobisoft Infotech. He has a rich experience in SEM, SEO, Social Media & other verticals of Digital Media. He also has been a consultant for a variety of industries, enterprises & startups. He loves reading & traveling. He often writes on various forums since he believes ‘Knowledge increases by sharing.’