Matthias Steinig, a German programmer, has developed a new mechanism that allows e-bikes to be rented in exchange for payments on the bitcoin Lightning Network. A prototype built using a modified bicycle is already fully functional and has been demonstrated in a video posted on Twitter.
The Lightning Bike
The project involves a device connected to the bike that controls the flow of electricity depending on whether or not a payment has been made. The payment process only requires the user to scan a QR code with their mobile phone and can be completed without any technical knowledge.
In its current state, Steinig’s e-bike implementation allows users to pay for temporary electricity replenishments via bitcoin microtransactions. The primary advantage of the Lightning Network is the ability to complete bitcoin transactions within a few seconds instead of several minutes or even hours. Since the payment mechanism has been built on top of the same infrastructure, there is very little delay between an individual initiating payment and being granted access to the bike’s full potential.
The payment mechanism has been designed to be simple and easily accessible. From the project’s official documentation, “You select on the display how long you want to drive, get a QR code that you scan and pay for with your lightning mobile app, after that the power for the selected period is turned on.” Once the time runs out, the user can pay for another refill or pedal the bike at no charge.
The project, simply titled “Lightning Bike,” is detailed in full on GitHub and has been made completely open source for others to learn from and even replicate.