The IoT Venture GmbH is about to close the door on a nightmare for e-bike owners. Bike robbery is still a huge thing, with more than 300,000 bikes stolen every year in Germany alone. At least for e-bikes, a new solution is on the horizon, 4 out of 5 bikes can be found with the “IT‘S MY BIKE” solution. If this is not possible, additional insurance provides a loss and damage waiver.
Built-in IoT tracker
The new e-bikes of IoT Ventures cooperation partners have built-in tracking solutions. Those who haven’t done so already can have the tracker installed by local partner retailers. It is not part of the strategy to offer a DIY method, because the tracker has to be installed safely and correctly into the motor compartment of modern e-bikes – a job for bike professionals. The good news is that bikes with tracking devices have better insurance conditions because it lowers the risk of total loss for the insurance.
The tracker has several features on board. The L76-L multi-band GNSS module from Quectel receives the current position. The device is connected via Narrowband IoT (NB- IoT) standard, which is available worldwide as a sub-band of the 4G network. It operates at 200 kHz and can downlink with up to 127 kbit/s and uplink with up to 159 kbit/s. Additional benefits of NB-IoT are high signal penetration into structures like buildings, garages, or transporters. Furthermore, there is only low battery consumption, which is key for a sensor that only weighs 45g.
Robustness and battery management
The placement of the sensor is not easy to access and removing it takes time, so it is very unlikely to be displaced at the site of crime. The sensor is only activated if movement is recognised. If the bike is permanently moved, a position is sent once per minute for up to 8 hours of live tracking. Staying operational for up to 5 months on stand-by and with a temperature range of -20 to 60°C increases the likelihood of receiving good positioning data after a theft.
If theft is recognised the user has several options. Assuming the bike has been locked on the corresponding app, the user can search for the bike himself or report a theft via the app. With basic information, like photos of the bike, the police are informed by “IT‘S MY BIKE” staff, who also provide the last known position. Thanks to the NB-IoT network the service works across frontiers and takes into account that stolen bikes are often quickly shipped beyond the borders. Bikes are quite often stolen by professional gangs, which leads to the nice side effect that if a tracked bike is located, other non-tracked bikes can be returned to their owners as well.
Galileo and NB-IoT positioning
To have full flexibility and the best signal coverage, it is planned to use the merged position of GNSS and NB-IoT in future versions of IT‘S MY BIKE. This would allow an optimised location service, when GNSS constellations have trouble providing strong signals, like in urban canyons while GNSS is strong in very remote areas.