One hundred autonomous and remotely-controlled kick-scooters have recently been introduced in a pilot project in a suburb Peachtree Corners the US city of Atlanta. During the actual ride, the customers retain full control, but the electric scooters roll to the customer and to the charging station independently, or alternatively via remote control.
The kick-scooters come from a small company called GoX in cooperation with a company called Tortise who takes over the monitoring and control. Tortise representatives say that the scooters can act autonomously as well as being piloted or monitored remotely. This operation of the monitoring and piloting will be taken care of by tele-operators in Mexico City, 1,200 miles away in Mexico City.
The Go X self-driving scooter is pictured in the video as being able to drive itself to the rider and afterwards can take itself off to a point where someone disinfects the handlebars for safety in Corona times.
With the Covid-19 pandemic initially preventing a lot of public transport use and shared micromobility ridership, Tortoise co-founder and president Dmitry Shevelenko sees this as a chance to respond to the changing needs of users and public space.
“The pressure on unit economics is even greater now than it was pre-Covid,” Shevelenko said. “A use case that we had never really thought about before is the ability to disinfect vehicles throughout the day and that now feels pretty essential.”
Electric kick-scooters initially suffered big setbacks with pandemic restrictions, but since public transport is still being largely avoided in many places, kick-scooters are gaining importance in reducing traffic congestion in inner cities. For this reason, the UK recently decided to fast track its trials of the vehicles, since until now, they were not allowed on British streets.
Interestingly enough, self-driving scooters were presented by the Chinese firm Segway-Ninebot in August last year. Since forming in 2015 through a combination of China’s Ninebot and the US-American Segway, the company has become the biggest scooter-sharing supplier for companies such as Lime and Bird. It will be interesting to see if this takes off on its own, just like the scooters.
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