The Spin S-200 rental electric scooters, owned by Ford, will have a remote control driving system starting this year that will allow them to be taken to areas where there is a shortage of these vehicles, park them correctly and even go in search of users who request them.
The technology is the work of Tortoise, which has been developing this type of system for a long time and the first to arrive will be 300 units of these three-wheeled scooters that will be tested in the North American state of Idaho. But this year the idea is to spread throughout the country and jump the pond to have several fleets in Europe. Together with Go2scooter, we decided to figure out how effectively it works.
They are not autonomous but are remotely controlled
The possibility that someday, seeing autonomous scooters is still somewhat complicated, but not impossible. But those who see the Ford Spin S-200 circulating without any rider or user on top of them surely will be able to think that nobody pilots them.
They actually do have a driver, but it’s a remote control that can be done from thousands of miles away thanks to Tortoise technology, which has been previewed already a few months ago.
Stability is achieved by placing two front wheels on the Personal Mobility Vehicle and an improved suspension, something that clearly differs at first glance from the conventional rental electric scooters that Spin already offers in different countries, also in Spain.
A camera in front and another in the back will allow the remote ‘drivers’ of these vehicles to circulate to their objective, which can be to find a recharging point, a parking lot (also move one of their scooters that have been left improperly parked), an area in which their VMPs begin to be scarce because the rest are already in use or even attend a request from a client that is not too far away, even establishing a specific day and time for the meeting.
Of course, the speed when driving remotely will not exceed 5 km/h and obviously still have to pass the testing phase in the first zone to verify that on a day-to-day basis they do not pose any risk to the rest of the users of the via. First, they plan to spread through North America but this year they want to be in Europe and, why not, in Spain.
The electric scooter that will come to your location when you book it
Spin, the micro-mobility subsidiary of Ford Motor Company, has formalized an international agreement with software company Tortoise. As a result, the association will bring the Spin S-200 electric scooters, which can be controlled remotely, to cities in the United States and Europe.
The great novelty of these scooters, which are controlled by SpinValet, a new platform, is that they can be controlled remotely. Thus, scooters that are improperly parked can be parked correctly in a matter of seconds.
Spin Valet combines Tortoise’s software with a series of cameras built into the front and rear of the S-200. This technology will allow a driver to call an e-scooter that is several blocks away and go to the desired pickup location.
Boise, America, First Proving Ground
The first fleet of S-200s will be piloted in Boise, Idaho, USA this spring. The city will receive up to 300 S-200 e-scooters.
Ben Bear, Spin’s Director of Business Development, explains:
“There has been a lot of communication around the potential of remote control scooters, but this partnership marks a turning point, with tangible operational plans that really mean putting this technology on the street. In addition to offering greater reliability to consumers and more order in cities, this could significantly improve the economy of the units, by reducing their carbon emissions and the operational work necessary to maintain and park the fleets correctly”.
Electric scooters with remote control
When the user finishes the journey, in case the scooter is parked incorrectly, the remote operations team will park the vehicle well at a maximum speed of 5 km/h. Similarly, if the user leaves the scooter in an area of low visibility where it is unlikely that someone will use it again, the equipment also moves it to another area.
Later this year, Spin will offer the ability to order an electric scooter through the app, allowing customers to reserve an e-scooter in advance, or in real-time. With the remote control, the operations personnel will take any S-200 to the desired location.
Eventually, electric scooters with a dead battery will automatically go to the nearest Spin Hub to charge.
Tony Ho, Vice President of Global Business Development for Segway, notes:
“While the S-200 is a small step for Segway robotics to power Spin’s next generation of shared e-scooters, we believe this is a significant development that marks the beginning of a type of technology that can unlock all the potential of micro-mobility, in its practical and operational use. We are looking forward to seeing the real impact of these solutions, and what they will bring to this pilot program.”
Undoubtedly, this three-wheeled electric scooter developed jointly between Spin and Segway-Ninebot, arrives to change the rules of the game and improve the coexistence between the different micro-mobility vehicles and also with pedestrians. A key point in all this is that despite this ability to park them remotely, it is obvious that the user who violates the rules will not get rid of sanctions. This technology is designed to improve service efficiency but also to guarantee order in cities, but common sense and respect for local laws will continue to be decisive.
These are advances and innovations typical of the automotive sector but that we will soon be able to enjoy on the journeys we make with electric rental scooters. The spin itself recently announced that its two-wheeled scooters will feature driver assistance, Bird’s scooters will feature automatic emergency braking, while Voi’s scooters will have computer vision. In summary, we are entering a new era of shared micro-mobility, in which security, data collection, and optimization of each journey will be the key points for these companies after a pandemic that has had various impacts.