Electric scooters that are part of the hire system trial across the Bristol and Bath areas could soon be fitted with on-board cameras which will stop them being ridden on the pavement.
Hire firm Voi Technologies are trialling the computer vision technology, which will involve a camera filming where the rider is going, and working out if they are in an area they shouldn’t be – like on the pavement.
Voi are running their e-scooter trials in cities and towns across the country this year, as the Government decides whether or not electric scooters can be allowed on the roads permanently.
A trial of the on-board cameras launched today (Thursday) in Northampton, and will be extended to scooters in Bristol next year.
Voi said it will also help with making sure riders park them up properly.
A total of 100 Voi e-scooters in Northampton will be fitted with an on-board smart camera, which can then be fed into artificial intelligence models that get continuously more accurate as the scooters ‘learn’ to interpret local road and footpath conditions.
The technology was launched on Wednesday at Voi’s home city of Stockholm, and is being trialled in several countries, including the UK.
The two-stage pilot in Northampton will first see the technology checked to see if it works, then a second stage where 100 scooters will have the cameras installed to see if they do alter rider behaviour.
The cameras will detect when a rider is on a pavement and make an audible alert, and the second stage will also test to see if it’s possible to then slow the rider down until they get off the footpath.
By next year, Luna, the company behind the technology, said it expects to embed a camera in every scooter available for rent in Britain.
“With computer vision e-scooters can be trained to see and recognise situations that are hazardous,” said Frank Hjelm, the co-founder and boss of Voi.
“This world-first pilot will set new standards of safety for this new form of transport. Having helped riders to take more than 60 million rides across Europe we understand deeply the issues involved in e-scooter safety and are always looking for ways to do better.
“We are very proud to be the first e-scooter operator to incorporate the computer vision technology at scale for the benefit of our riders, pedestrians and authorities,” he added.
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