Manchester launches bike-sharing service using Azure

Microsoft cloud platform powers Northern 'Boris Bike' scheme

Microsoft's cloud is underpinning a new bicycle-sharing scheme in Manchester.

Dubbed Mobike, the initiative was been launched in cooperation with Transport for Great Manchester, and is operated by a Chinese company of the same name.

The scheme uses an app-based service, which is run on Microsoft Azure. Unlike similar schemes in London, where users pay a small fee to pick up and drop off bicycles from docking stations located across the capital, Mobike lets users leave their bicycles in any appropriate public parking location, without the need for a dock. Up to 1,000 bikes will be deployed in Manchester over the course of the next week, initially at “high-traffic locations such as Metrolink stations, university campuses and retail parks”, the company said. 

After downloading the app and signing up, users can then location their nearest bike with the app. Once at a bike, they can then scan the QR code on the bike, which automatically releases the smart lock on it, and ride away – the service costs 50p per 30 minutes. Parking the bike in a public parking place and manually closing the lock ends the trip, and makes it available to the next rider. 

Each bike is embedded with GPS technology and connected to the Azure platform, the bikes can be located wherever they are left via the app, and found by the next user.

Alex Montgomery, business lead for Azure IoT and AI at Microsoft UK, said: “Mobike is a great example of how companies can use Azure to improve the lives of millions of people. The cornerstone of Mobike’s offering is customer convenience. No matter where you are in Manchester, the intelligence built into our cloud platform will help you find the nearest Mobike, so you can get to where you need to go, quickly and easily.

“Microsoft has been carbon neutral since 2012, and we fully support environmentally-friendly forms of transport. We are proud to be helping the public in Manchester get around, stay fit and protect the planet, all at the same time.” 

Microsoft said that Mobike will be able to cope with spikes in usage with Azure automatically increasing the amount of processing power in the cloud that Mobike needs.

Picture: Microsoft

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