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February 02, 2011

Bike-Share Science

Bikes cropped

Oh, algorithms. Is there anything you can't do? Mark Zuckerberg knows.

In terms of the proliferation of bike-sharing programs, the science behind sharing stations and supply is becoming increasingly important. In cities where the number of bike-sharing stations is in the hundreds, it's sometimes a guessing game for station managers. Patrons are commonly coming across stations with a lack of supply or an overflow problem.

That's where engineers at Tel Aviv University come into play:

"These stations are managed imperfectly, based on what the station managers see," Raviv said in a statement. "They use their best guesses to move bikes to different locations around the city using trucks. There is no system for more scientifically managing the availability of bikes, creating dissatisfaction among users in popular parts of the city. [...]

"Our research involves devising methods and algorithms to solve the routing and scheduling problems of the trucks that move fleets, as well as other operational and design challenges within this system," Raviv said.

 (h/t Autopia.)

-- Brian Foley

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