A Stationless Bikeshare Proof of Concept for College Campuses
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Bikeshares promote healthy lifestyles and sustainability among commuters, casual riders, and tourists. However, the central pillar of modern systems, the bike station, cannot be easily integrated into a compact college campus. Fixed stations lack the flexibility to meet the needs of college students who make quick, short-distance trips. Additionally, the necessary cost of implementing and maintaining each station prohibits increasing the number of stations for user convenience. Therefore, the team developed a stationless bikeshare based on a smartlock permanently attached to bicycles in the system. The smartlock system design incorporates several innovative approaches to provide usability, security, and reliability that overcome the limitations of a station centered design. A focus group discussion allowed the team to receive feedback on the early lock, system, and website designs, identify improvements and craft a pleasant user experience. The team designed a unique, two-step lock system that is intuitive to operate while mitigating user error. To ensure security, user access is limited through near field ii communications (NFC) technology connected to a mechatronic release system. The said system relied on a NFC module and a servo working through an Arduino microcontroller coded in the Arduino IDE. To track rentals and maintain the system, each bike is fitted with an XBee module to communicate with a scalable ZigBee mesh network. The network allows for bidirectional, real-time communication with a Meteor.js web application, which enables user and administrator functions through an intuitive user interface available on mobile and desktop. The development of an independent smartlock to replace bike stations is essential to meet the needs of the modern college student. With the goal of creating a bikeshare that better serves college students, Team BIKES has laid the framework for a system that is affordable, easily adaptable, and implementable on any university expressing an interest in bringing a bikeshare to its campus.