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New paradigms in e-micromobility

electrosprcifier | Advantech | 11/11/2020

New paradigms in e-micromobility

To differentiate their offering in a fiercely competitive market, e-micromobility brands continuously refine their services to make them more convenient, satisfying, fun, and, ultimately, the best way to get from one place to another. But there’s a lot going on behind the scenes - a lot of complexity to manage - to create the illusion of simplicity needed for customers to return to the same brand again and again. In this blog post, we look at the foundational role that the right hardware and data services play in building an offering that riders will want to stick to. 

Keeping connected - globally

Fleets of shared e-bikes, e-scooters, or e-mopeds can number in the thousands or more. They all need to be tracked, charged, maintained, repaired, and when the time comes, replaced. And as brands enhance the functionality of the e-micromobility two-wheelers they sell to private customers, for example by adding subscription-based services, they too need to stay connected to each individual ride that they have on the road.

In today’s fragmented cellular technology landscape, extending such an offering to broad geographical markets can quickly become a headache. For one, operators of shared micromobility platforms seeking to grow beyond a single market need to ensure their solutions are certified for operation on the cellular data networks in their target markets. The, owners of e-bikes and e-scooters also increasingly expect hassle-free travel across borders or even continents.

Demanding security...

Security is another essential element - at many levels. In the past months, researchers have identified numerous cyber security threats that poorly secured rides expose their users to. These include already exploited ways to remotely control the brakes or the accelerator, denial-of-service attacks to block booking and billing systems, and GNSS spoofing, for example, to direct users away from their intended destinations.

Protecting their customers - and their own businesses - places high demands on the connectivity solutions that brands choose to use. Each shared ride, for instance, needs a secure connection to the cloud backend to enable firmware updates without opening up vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit. Local connectivity to their customers’ smartphones - for instance, to interact with the two-wheeler, manage bookings, and make payments - needs effective measures in place to safeguard their privacy and their physical safety.

...with no end in sight

And security will only become more important as e-micromobility services add additional functionality to their rides and further expand their service offering.

Take vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication, which is already being implemented in connected cars, enabling them to communicate with other vehicles and roadside infrastructure to effectively 'look around corners' and safely negotiate otherwise risky maneuvers. If used to connect e-bikes and e-scooters to other vehicles and road infrastructure, V2X could keep vulnerable riders out of harm’s way, preventing collisions with cars and other heavier vehicles. But because of its mission-critical nature, V2X comes with strict security requirements on both the vehicle and the back end.

The value of smart hardware...

All that might sound like a lot to deal with, especially considering that expectations for flawless operation have never been higher. Fortunately, smart hardware can help overcome some of the complexities outlined above, and pave the way for innovative post-sale services.

According to COWBOY Bikes, which sells meticulously engineered e-bikes, the right hardware is essential to achieving the robust performance that these require. "COWBOY bikes are changing the rules of the game with a beautifully designed e-bike and a highly connected experience, providing users the ultimate riding experience at every step of the way," said Tanguy Goretti, Co-Founder and CTO at COWBOY.

"u‑blox's positioning and wireless connectivity solutions are essential building blocks of our offerings, enabling a wide range of micromobilty services, which include Easy Rider for theft detection and bike insurance and crash detection notifications."   

...and smart services

A fleet of e-micromobility vehicles is basically just an IoT system, comprising lots of devices that are wirelessly connected to the cloud. Like all IoT systems, once deployed, it too will quickly become a target for all sorts of malicious attacks. Meeting the stringent end-to-end security requirements needed to fend off these attacks is essential to for e-micromobilty providers to deliver resilient and efficient services. But building a robust security solution from scratch, well..., it isn’t easy.

Our power-optimised wireless connectivity solutions with built-in end-to-end security take the pain out of the process. With an embedded secure element and world-class symmetric scalable key management, our SARA-R4 and SARA-R5 cellular module series deliver out-of-the-box security services for Low Power Wide Area (LPWA), constrained devices, protecting vehicle data in transit and at rest.

And like all IoT systems, a fleet of e-micromobility vehicles, sometimes spread across countries or even continents, will generate oodles of data. Managing this data reliably so that it can be acted upon in real time isn’t always a cakewalk. MQTT-SN, an evolution of the de-facto standard MQTT protocol, solves this complexity by bringing efficiency, reliability, and scalability to IoT communications. MQTT-SN is optimised for low power consumption and tailored to the types of data most e-micromobiity use cases transmit.

In fact, while most IoT data plans on the market are simply low-throughput versions of their high-throughput consumer solutions, our IoT SIM Cards and MQTT-Anywhere platform enable a real global low power wide area network across 600 carriers in over 190 countries, simplifying IoT systems integration and offering fixed, low cost connectivity with a protocol that was specifically designed to manage small data packets and reduce data overhead in every transmission.

Contact us to find out more about how our broad portfolio of GNSS-based positioning solutions, cellular communication modules, and short range (Bluetooth and WiFi) modules, as well as our recently launched data management, positioning, and security services combine to enable a micromobility service offering that streamlines development, deployment, and maintenance while offering best-in-class customer experience.

Guest blog written by Diego Grassi, Senior Manager Application Marketing, Industrial Market Development, u‑blox and Neil Hamilton, Marketing & Sales Services, Product Center Services, u‑blox.


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