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Is this the first bike you can't steal?

03 Mar 2017Technology

E-bikes - bicycles with electric motors - are the highest selling electric vehicle on the planet, with nearly 35 million unit sales forecast for 20161.

Piaggio Group - the company that created the iconic Vespa - has worked with Vodafone Automotive to create a new e-bike. The Wi-Bike, which is on sale in Europe, uses mobile connectivity to improve the rider's experience.

The rider's smartphone is used to control the motor settings. The rider chooses the amount of physical effort they want to exert, or can indicate the number of calories they want to burn, or set a maximum heart rate threshold.

The motor increases or decreases its contribution based on a corresponding training programme (City, Hill or Standard).

Wi-Bike riders get full route data and statistics about every ride and can choose to share them with friends on social networks.

So, with the Wi-Bike, a sport cyclist can keep their level of exertion high during a training ride and the same cyclist can choose not to work up a sweat on their way to a meeting.

The Wi-Bike proactively sends an alert if the battery is running low on charge, or if the motor needs urgent maintenance. Alternatively, Wi-Bike riders can check how much charge is in their battery at any time.

Sadly, e-bikes are also popular with thieves. That’s why the Wi-Bike uses the mobile connectivity to improve security. The Wi-Bike’s dashboard control unit, battery and electric motor are connected by a unique code that is given to the customer at the time of purchase. The three units can work only if connected and communicating with one another. So, when the rider parks they just remove the display (which operates as an electronic key) to render the Wi-Bike effectively unusable.  

Even if the bike still gets taken, the thief won’t get far. The Wi-Bike has a Vodafone Global Internet of Things (IoT) SIM card housed within its frame which continuously monitors its location using GPS, wherever it is in the world. If the Wi-Bike detects an attempted theft, an alert is sent immediately to the owner via their dedicated iOS or Android smartphone app.

In addition to the Global IoT SIM being used by Piaggio, Vodafone Automotive has developed a suite of products being used by manufacturers of two-wheeled vehicles, including:

  • a dedicated telematics device for two wheels, with connectivity embedded, manufactured in the Vodafone Automotive factory in Varese, Italy;

  • data management and analysis tools for telematics from connected bikes;

  • secure operating centres in 49 countries which can support riders 24/7 and track stolen bikes, then work with local police to recover them; and

  • customisable mobile and web apps that manufacturers can white label to enable their customers to access their vehicles remotely.   


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