A Deep Reinforcement Learning Framework for Rebalancing Dockless Bike Sharing Systems
Bike sharing provides an environment-friendly way for traveling and is booming all over the world. Yet, due to the high similarity of user travel patterns, the bike imbalance problem constantly occurs, especially for dockless bike sharing systems, causing significant impact on service quality and company revenue. Thus, it has become a critical task for bike sharing operators to resolve such imbalance efficiently. In this paper, we propose a novel deep reinforcement learning framework for incentivizing users to rebalance such systems. We model the problem as a Markov decision process and take both spatial and temporal features into consideration. We develop a novel deep reinforcement learning algorithm called Hierarchical Reinforcement Pricing (HRP), which builds upon the Deep Deterministic Policy Gradient algorithm. Different from existing methods that often ignore spatial information and rely heavily on accurate prediction, HRP captures both spatial and temporal dependencies using a divide-and-conquer structure with an embedded localized module. We conduct extensive experiments to evaluate HRP, based on a dataset from Mobike, a major Chinese dockless bike sharing company. Results show that HRP performs close to the 24-timeslot look-ahead optimization, and outperforms state-of-the-art methods in both service level and bike distribution. It also transfers well when applied to unseen areas.