Uber has announced some key updates are coming to its Jump-branded electric bikes in the new year.
Most notably, the e-bikes will soon sport batteries that can be swapped out and replaced on the spot — this saves a team of staff from having to manually collect dead bikes to take back for charging at the depot.
The upgraded Jump bike promises a few other notable updates worth mentioning. For example, it will now house its dashboard at the front of the bike beneath the handlebars, meaning that you will no longer have to lean down at the back to unlock it. This is a more natural way to access the dashboard, as you can just sit down on the bike immediately to get things started. Also, Jump will now ask you to scan a QR code to unlock it, rather than enter a PIN code.
It’s also worth noting here that the bike will offer a retractable cable lock, as opposed to a u-bar, while there is also now a phone mount on the front.
Uber snapped up Jump back in April in a deal reported to be worth $200 million. The move signaled Uber’s long-term goal, which is to provide urban transport for all scenarios, including when cars aren’t the best option for getting from A to B.
Jump’s dockless electric bikes are pedal assisted, meaning that they can’t operate entirely off an electric charge like others on the market. However, they still require charging, which has hitherto involved a team of people collecting the bikes for charging, which can take up to six hours. Now, the team can travel around replacing the batteries on each bike as and when required, which takes just a few minutes for each bike.
Though the presence of dockless bicycles has exploded in cities around the world in recent years, we’re now seeing a rise in electric scooters and electric bikes too — but unlike bicycles, they need more of a technological infrastructure to ensure they’re constantly charged. And that is why Uber has been investing in various initiatives to support Jump’s growth. For example, a few months back, Uber announced electric bike charging stations in partnership with Sacramento, where charging stations are being installed across the city at universities, government buildings, and other locations.
Other notable players in the space include San Mateo-based Lime, which recently rebranded from LimeBike after expanding into electric scooters, and which is already a so-called “unicorn”. It recently closed a whopping $335 million funding round from big names including Alphabet’s investment arm GV.
Jump bikes also come with a bunch of new internal smarts, including self-diagnostic functionality that can identify “its most common failures,” according to Jump’s head of product Nick Foley. “With full connectivity for all on-board vehicle systems, our fleets will be smarter and safer over time, as we use the live diagnostic data from each vehicle to uniquely optimize its performance with algorithms running in our cloud,” Foley added.
The new Jump bikes will be rolling out in the new year, and the company said it will be adding some of the same updated technology to its scooters later in 2019.