E-scooter tech 'prevents footway riding in real time'

14/10/2021
Chris Ames

Electric transportation firm Bird has announced new ‘smart sidewalk protection' technology which aims to prevent e-scooters and other micromobility devices being used on footways and footpaths.

It said the technology, described as a ‘sensor fusion solution', had been designed and developed in partnership with u-blox, a leader in wireless communication and positioning technology and services.

A rider dismounts after her scooter is brought to a halt

Bird said the industry’s ‘first robust, integrated sensor fusion system’ tracks location with centimetre-level precision and that by combining u-blox’s high precision dead reckoning module with accurate footway mapping and its suite of onboard vehicle sensors the system effectively and efficiently detects and prevents footway riding in real-time.

The firm said that while traditional GPS with cloud-based maps can take more than 15 seconds to respond, its new system, which is integrated directly into its newest scooters, can safely bring a vehicle that has entered onto a sidewalk to a safe stop while allowing the rider to walk the vehicle back to the carriageway or cycle lane.

Chief vehicle officer Scott Rushforth said: ‘Everything we build at Bird is centred around safety and scalability, sidewalk riding detection is no exception. After three years of building, testing and piloting a range of technologies including but not limited to on board cameras, GPS tracking, ultra-wideband and beacons, we found that each was insufficient with regard to accuracy, precision, immediacy or scalability.

‘Our testing led us to a collaboration with u-blox, which resulted in the development of our end-to-end sensor fusion solution that meets our criteria.’

Alex Ngi, product manager positioning at u-blox, said: ‘Our centimetre-level precise GNSS positioning technology will now be implemented in the expanding micromobility industry, strengthening our contribution to a safer and more ecological world.’

Bird said the technology is currently being piloted in Milwaukee and San Diego and is expected to be piloted in Madrid early next year, with plans for a broader roll out 'slated for 2022'.

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