I heard "through the grapevine" that Bike Emory would be having an event today to announce their bike-share partnership with Georgia Tech. I was intrigued. Emory has had a bicycle share program for maybe a year now. It's very basic - you go to a desk, show your Emory ID and sign a form, and they give you a key. Georgia Tech does not have a program, and as far as I knew, didn't plan to start one.
Well, it turns out that Emory was in the market for some new bike-share technology. It's notoriously difficult. You have to have ways to track your customers, track your bikes, prevent theft and vandalism, and make sure that customers can find and use the bicycles pretty reliably. Many universities have tried and failed. City-wide systems are catching on but having problems with the equipment. The cost is prohibitive for many potential programs.
Well, these were merely challenges to be overcome for the engineers of Georgia Tech. At Emory's request, they invented entirely new technology. A simple black box mounts on the bicycle. It contains a GPS unit, cell phone, and a device which can latch and release a cable lock. You simply send a text message to the bicycle you want to use, and the lock magically unlocks itself. The box can even call for help if its battery runs low or if it experiences tampering
the project had won a Ford College Community Challenge grant. This award provides critical funding to expand the new technology into a functional automated bicycle share program. The program should be running on Emory's main campus by this summer. If all goes well, it will be expanded to their satellite campuses, to Georgia Tech (yay!), and eventually to surrounding neighborhoods.