How should bike-sharing startups prepare themselves for the AI era?

AI is arguably the hottest sector in tech worldwide. From the consumer gadgets’ perspective, the world has evolved from a personal computer (PC) dominated era to the smartphone era where people chat with family and friends, and remotely work with coworkers on their smartphones. Business insiders predict that AI will be the next big thing after PCs and smartphones.

If a certain industry intends to prepare itself for the AI era, it needs to have large amounts of data to provide the necessary basis for AI technology such as machine learning.

Thanks to its hot and popular business, bike-sharing is worth paying attention to in China. Leading domestic bike-sharing startup ofo in late March announced that it has reached 10 million daily rides.

Shared bikes from various startups have added bright colors to China’s cities and have altered the way residents commute from place to place, especially for journeys shorter than 2 kilometers.

How should bike-sharing prepare themselves for the AI era?

“Our team did research on the industry chain of the bike-sharing industry. The core bug lies in the all-in-one lock, which is embedded with a GPS and communication chip,” said Li Feng, founder of Beijing-based venture capital FreesFund, in an article he wrote for Jiemian. Li is a former partner of iDG Capital Partners.

A Mobike lock with an embedded GPS system. Photo from Baidu images.

Millions of bikes alone do not make up the base of AI or form the Internet of Things. These bikes must be connected to the Internet and form the giant bike net via GPS.

GPS is one of the components that consumes the most electricity in these shared bikes. Different companies try to solve this problem with different approaches. These approaches include transforming pedaling power of riders to empower GPS, charging smart locks at nights, and placing solar charging panels on the basket of the bike.

All bike-sharing startups are seeking a GPS sensor that is low in electricity consumption and has high precision. Many companies once believed that there would not be such a sensor.

It is estimated that by 2045, there will be at least 100 billion devices connected to the Internet.

For the bike-sharing sector, Li predicted that the trendy bike-sharing industry will in turn promote the evolution of GPS sensors.

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