Social Bicycles, or SoBi, will use only AT&T wireless networks to help users locate, reserve and unlock bikes through a mobile phone application on their smartphone or tablet.
SoBi will launch this fall in select markets in California, Idaho and New York. Additional markets are expected to go live early next year.
The company is the first public bike share system that relies completely on a mobile network to track, locate and unlock bikes, said Social Bicycles CEO Ryan Rzepecki.
Unlike other bike share programs, SoBi won’t operate stations that house a large number of bicycles in one spot. Instead, SoBi relies on its web and mobile reservations and real-time GPS tracking to help users locate a bike in their area.
A central server verifies each unlock request and sends the user’s pin code to the bicycle for confirmation on the keypad, which is installed on the back fender. Once the correct pin code is entered, the lock is disengaged and the server tracks the location of the bike. Users can return the bike by locking it to any bicycle rack in the area.
SoBi has created an incentive system to encourage users to keep the bikes within a designated zone. Users who lock the bikes outside of a hub location are charged a fee. The fee is posted to the map and the next user to take the bike and return it to a hub receives a credit.
SoBi’s software also tracks calories burned, emissions reduced as well as dollars saved versus driving.
This month, AT&T announced plans to more than double its contract with Bloom Energy and add another 9.6 MW of fuel cell power. The fuel cell installations will bring AT&T’s total to 17.1 MW spread over 28 sites, including data centers, in California and Connecticut, making the communications company the largest non-utility customer of Bloom Energy.