Challenge Cup Winner’s Project: “Smart lock” for urban public bikes

Modern urban development has put forward higher requirements for low-carbon “green” vehicles. Many cities both at home and abroad have launched a public bike rental system. Not only does this provide greater convenience for citizens and visitors, it is also an effective solution to meet traffic demand and reduce the cost of public transportation. However, there are still problems with public bike rental system. For example, users must go to the designated area for bike rentals and one cannot park it anywhere with the assigned lock. For the rental company, bikes can easily go missing and the location and condition of the vehicle cannot be accurately judged.

On the basis of these problems, the 3rd grade undergraduate Zhu Yicheng and other 3 students from the Department of Electrical Engineering at Tsinghua University developed a user-friendly smart lock for public bicycles. Through interactions with smart phone app, it is possible to locate available bikes, locate its positioning, have an anti-theft warning system, a key unlocking mechanism along with other key functions. Their project, “Create a user-friendly smart lock for public bikes” won the top grade award in the 2015 “Challenge Cup” Contest of Tsinghua University. 

Zhu Yicheng and his fellows added Internet of things technology into their smart lock design. To ease communication between the user and the rented bikes, the widely used mobile phone app was also included. Through GPS navigation, vibration sensors and GSM communication functions, users are able to locate public bikes through the use of their mobiles and unlock the bike through their app. The bike can be parked wherever and whenever and all it takes is a click on your mobile to lock and unlock it. In addition, the built-in sensors can effectively identify any lock picking, lock damage and theft. A prompt warning is sent to the user to notify such disruptive behavior.

This smart lock project not only eliminates the inconveniences surrounding buying designated rental cards but also increases the coverage of public bicycles and promotes effective use. Built-in devices and positioning chips also prevent theft and reduce cost in need to purchase parking area. In the long run, user habits and other data could be obtained from these intelligent lock systems as well as precise allocation of public transport resources.

Now, Zhu Yicheng and his fellows are ready to recycle bikes from recent graduates and re-use some “zombie bikes” from the Tsinghua Campus. Smart lock will be installed on these recycled and unused bikes so that this new rental service could be made available for Tsinghua teachers and students and even others outside the campus.


    Department of Electrical Engineering



    Spotlight Group



    Weiyuan Min



    Guo Xiang 



    Zhao Xin, Yin Xia, Zhang Geming, Zhang Zheng



    Wang Yin, Zhang Ying