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The e-scooter company owned by Ford, Spin, reportedly said it has developed a new solution to the problem of sidewalk clutter and scofflaw riders. Teaming up with an IoT startup called Drover AI, the company is adding cameras, sensor arrays, and onboard computers to all of their e-scooters in an effort to curb improper parking and riding behavior by customers.
Through this “exclusive partnership” with the Los Angeles-based Drover AI, Spin will use the startup’s PathPilot technology in their next-generation Insight monitoring platform in U.S. cities. Spin reportedly hopes to assist its riders by helping them make safer riding decisions and understanding their surroundings.
Moreover, the company also said it will be sharing the data generated by the new equipment with cities “to help them better regulate shared fleets.” Spin will 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 launching a few years ago, the shared scooter industry has been plagued by criticism over sidewalk clutter — which lead to many e-scooter accidents— and dangerous riding behavior by some customers. Adding to the dangers, many cities simply don’t have traffic rules or regulations for e-scooters, and many of these decisions are left to local governments to decide.
According to a UCLA study from 2019, standing electric scooters were associated with 249 emergency room visits between September 2017 and the end of August 2018 in two Los Angeles hospitals. The reported injuries included dislocations, bone fractures, lung contusions, soft-tissue injuries, and a splenic laceration.
Most victims were riders who had fallen, crashed with an object, or were struck by a vehicle. Pedestrian accidents who crashed with scooters, tripped over them, or were attempting to lift them accounted for 8.4% of injuries. Fortunately, none of the injuries were fatal, but two patients were sent to the intensive care unit.
People in the 18 to 34 age group are the most likely to sustain e-scooter injuries. Hospital admissions in this age group reportedly skyrocketed by 354% between 2014 and 2018.
All of 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, and Spin describes the “array of sensors” as “visual, inertial, environmental, and positioning sensors,” which will be used for “granular location awareness.” The company explained that the “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.” It described the technology “akin to advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) that use on-board sensors to help automobile drivers park, brake, and stay in their lanes.”
The company is currently vying for a permit in New York City, where the city is currently accepting applications for its first shared scooter pilot.