Spin, the electric scooter company owned by Ford, says it has a novel solution to the problem of sidewalk clutter and scofflaw riders. The company is teaming up with an IoT startup called Drover AI to add cameras, sensor arrays, and onboard computers to all of their scooters in the hopes of curbing improper parking and riding behavior by customers.
Spin has forged an “exclusive partnership” with the Los Angeles-based Drover AI to use the startup’s PathPilot technology in Spin’s next-generation Insight monitoring platform in US cities. By equipping its scooters with cameras and sensors, Spin hopes to better “understand its surroundings in real time and assist riders in making safe riding decisions.” Also, Spin will share data generated by the new equipment with cities to help them better regulate shared fleets.
Ideally, Spin will be able to track where its scooters are being ridden, and then share that data with cities so planners can make decisions about traffic congestion and bike lane placement.
Since they launched several years ago, the shared scooter industry has been plagued by the twin scourges of sidewalk clutter and dangerous riding behavior by some customers. This has led cities to demand more innovative solutions from companies for controlling how their vehicles are used in public spaces.
Drover AI’s new equipment is attached right below the handlebars, with a second module fixed lower on the stem. Spin describes the “array of sensors” as “visual, inertial, environmental, and positioning sensors,” which will be used for “granular location awareness.” Think of it as an advanced driver assistance system, like Tesla’s Autopilot, Spin says:
Akin to advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) that use on-board sensors to help automobile drivers park, brake, and stay in their lanes, Spin Insight Level 2 has the ability to combine the latest in sensor and artificial intelligence technologies to enable local regulation compliance enforcement and create a safer experience for riders and pedestrians.
The company is hoping that the new technology will give it an edge in New York City, which is now accepting applications for a limited number of permits for its first shared scooter pilot. The competition for the new permits is expected to be fierce, with practically every major scooter company hoping to prove its commitment to safety and law-abidingness to the city’s Department of Transportation.
New York City is expected to announce the winners in spring 2021.