The pandemic has heightened an interest in personal mobility machines for urban areas. Advances in battery and motor control tech accompanied by cost reductions mean e-scooters are getting cheaper, while advances in autonomy are creating a potentially interesting new market.
Ford’s micromobility subsidiary Spin is partnering with software company Tortoise to introduce remotely-operated e-scooters to cities in North America and Europe. The new S-200 Valet model has front and rear-facing built-in cameras and the plan is to use them in conjunction with an advanced visual navigation system to guide the machines to where they are needed, with a scooter hailing app calling them up. When the battery is low the scooters go to a charging hub, and if they are left in a an inconvenient place, like a disabled parking bay, they can move themselves to somewhere more appropriate.
Ben Bear, Chief Business Officer at Spin commented, “There has been a lot of fanfare around the potential of remote-controlled e-scooters, but this partnership marks a turning point in tangible operational plans to bring them to city streets. In addition to providing reliability to consumers and more order to city streets, this could significantly improve unit economics, help reduce carbon emissions and the operational work required to maintain and reposition fleets.”
The machines feature three independent braking systems - a regenerative rear brake with front and rear drum brakes and also turn signals on the handlebars and near the rear wheel.
The partners are looking to begin the trial in Boise, Idaho in the spring.