Bike-sharing has emerged as a convenient transportation option for urban travelers. China’s leading transportation company, Hellobike, has grown quickly and now has about 300 million registered users. Managing such a huge user base, as well as the intensity and complexity of urban transportation in China, requires the use of advanced technology. Thus, to tackle serious operational challenges, Hellobike has upgraded its Hello Brain transportation operating system to manage distribution and tackle existing bike-sharing problems.
Hello Brain, a smart system independently developed by Hellobike, aims to improve transportation services with cutting-edge technologies. The company launched the second version of Hello Brain in August, making it the decision hub of the company’s operations ecosystem. Hello Brain uses big data, cloud computing, and AI-based technologies to help streamline the company’s operations and bike maintenance. It has improved its bike deployment for users and ensures the orderly parking of shared bikes.
The competition in China’s ride-sharing market has entered a new phase. The major players are Didi, Meituan, and Hellobike, the last of which came late to the market but is succeeding through its strategic operations and innovative technology. Refining and perfecting operating efficiency has become the key to keeping users.
“The essence of bike sharing is the story of ‘new wine in old bottles,’ but ‘new wine’ is not simply a vehicle on the street, but improving operating efficiency through innovative technologies and business models,” Hellobike’s President and Co-Founder Li Kaizhu said at the company’s second annual industrial conference on November 29 in Shanghai.
In the past, bike sharing companies tried to attract more users by placing more and more bikes in each city. In general, central business districts and subway and bus stations are crowded with bikes. Last year, Shenzhen cleared more than 150,000 shared bikes, making the city more efficient and less cluttered.
The clutter caused by shared bikes poses a significant challenge to both ride-sharing companies and city governments. Hellobike has confronted this issue by launching Hello Brain, its smart transportation OS. Hello Brain uses an AI-based object recognition system that can identify bikes that are improperly parked through real-time surveillance. The system can manage the number of shared bikes and e-scooters in an area and report to Hellobike’s team in real-time. The system provides solutions to balance the number of bikes and local parking capacity. Hellobike has piloted the system in Shanghai’s Minhang district. If the total number of shared bikes exceeds the total available parking spaces in certain parts of the district, the system will immediately report to Hellobike’s district manager for the situation.
Using AI, big data, and cloud computing technologies, Hello Brain monitors bike distribution in different areas, providing real-time updates to the company’s staff and offering the best redistribution solutions. For example, at the Lijing Road subway station in Chengdu’s Tianfu District, rush-hour demand for shared-bikes can reach upwards of 1000 per hour, and Hello Brain can adjust real-time bike distribution demands. When detecting the lack of bikes in high-demand locations, Hello Brain will send out instructions to operations staff, telling them the number of bikes they need to move and the quickest route to get from one place to another, which improves the efficiency of bike redistribution. With the help of Hello Brain, the company’s operations staff can effectively redistribute bikes within 30 minutes.
Disordered parking and maintenance
The disordered parking of shared bikes is another problem that bike-sharing companies must face. Randomly parked bikes often obstruct roads and can cause temporary traffic jams, which lowers the efficiency of a city’s transportation. Changhai road in Shanghai’s Yangpu District is always jammed with randomly parked bikes, hindering the passage of both pedestrians and vehicles.
To sort out the bike parking problem, Hellobike has launched an innovative technology using bluetooth road studs to further assist Hello Brain. The bluetooth road studs are equipped with chips which use AI technology with neural network algorithms, enabling the studs to recognize and react to their surroundings. Within a certain parking area, the bluetooth road studs can scan the bikes and tell whether or not users have properly parked their bikes. If a bike is not parked in a designated area, the lock will flick open to warn the user, telling them the bike is parked in an improper location. Hellobike’s bluetooth road studs reportedly had a success rate of greater than 95% during testing, putting it in an advanced position in the bike-sharing industry. Hellobike has employed such technology in more than 10 cities, including Shanghai, to improve bike parking.
To reduce maintenance difficulties, Hello Brain can receive information about its bikes’ defects and classify the faulty bikes into different categories. The smart lock on every Hellobike, which is equipped with bluetooth and smart self-diagnosis capabilities, sends reports on its status in real-time to Hello Brain. Collecting and analyzing the real-time data, Hello Brain is able to report the location of faulty bikes and instruct maintenance crews where they can find damaged or missing bikes. Moreover, Hello Brain’s computing technology can effectively filter malfunction reports from users and has improved the precision of these reports from 40% to 90%.
According to data from Hellobike, the company has provided about 30,000 operation and maintenance jobs so far, as well as integrated nearly 200 upstream and downstream industries which are its ecological partners including batteries, switchboards, semiconductors, hardware, and communication industries.
Two-wheeled vehicles are very popular among Chinese commuters, as 2.8 billion daily commutes, about one third of China’s total, are done on two wheelers. Hellobike claims that it serves over 50% of the Chinese shared bike market. Hello Brain will help the company further increase operating efficiency and improve rider experience, with the goal of aiming to solidify its place as the leader.
(Top photo from Pixabay)