Do Any Bike-Sharing Services Utilize Radio Frequency Identification?

By RFID Journal

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Ask The ExpertsDo Any Bike-Sharing Services Utilize Radio Frequency Identification?
RFID Journal Staff asked 3 years ago

I would like to install RFID receivers at various locations around my school and use them as docking points for shared scooters and bicycles with RFID transmitters on them. Would this work—and what are some technical difficulties I may run into?

—Shreya

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Shreya,

There are many bike-sharing services that use radio frequency identification in exactly this way. I think the biggest challenge is probably creating a locking and unlocking system that is tied to an individual.

The way these systems typically work is that you either pay by a credit card to unlock a bicycle or scooter, or have an ID card linked to a credit card. When you use one of these options, your card is charged and a bike or scooter is unlocked. Your students won’t use a credit card, but you will need some way to identify who is borrowing each bike or scooter before it is unlocked. That way, you can follow up with the individual if the vehicle is not returned. So you will need to have a mechanism that will allow the student to identify himself or herself and unlock a scooter or bike. This is not a system that can be purchased off-the-shelf.

If you can resolve that issue, you will need to find a secure way to tag the scooters and bikes. If the tags are removed, you will not be able to identify the vehicles, and the system won’t work. You will also need to protect the RFID readers in a weatherproof housing if they are exposed to the elements (you can use a NEMA enclosure), and you will need to get power to the readers, most likely through underground conduits.

All of this is doable, but it will not be a simple undertaking. I think the hardest part will be to identify individuals who unlock scooters or bicycles at one station and then return them to the same or another station.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal

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