Computer & Technology

Computer vision e-scooter technology to be trialled in UK city

Shared e-scooter operator Voi will launch what claims to be the world’s first large-scale pilot of computer vision on e-scooters in the UK city of Northampton, later this month.

 

The two-stage pilot involves installing artificial intelligence (AI) technology that can detect when an e-scooter leaves the road and rides on a pavement, or when the vehicle is parked incorrectly.

 

Voi has an exclusive licence to operate in Northampton as part of the British government’s national trial of e-scooters, which started last year and runs until spring 2022.

 

Lane segmentation

 

Voi is working on the project with Irish micromobility start-up Luna, whose technology offers real-time lane segmentation and pedestrian detection for scooters, similar to that available in high-end cars.

 

Voi e-scooters fitted with the new technology were tested on Stockholm streets in advance of deployment in Northampton to demonstrate the potential of the technology which will increase the safety of e-scooters by fixing the problem of pavement riding. The technology will also provide tools to identify problem areas and adapt infrastructure for micromobility, by conveying real-time data about how the vehicles are being used.

 

The “smart camera” hardware and electronics have been honed by Luna and Voi over the past six months, to integrate with the latest Voi vehicles, while the computer vision algorithms have been trained extensively using hours of video footage from Northampton.

 

“With computer vision e-scooters can be trained to see and recognise situations that are hazardous. This world-first pilot will set new standards of safety for this new form of transport,” said Fredrik Hjelm, co-founder and CEO of Voi Technology.

“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”

“The value of the smart city data that can be generated by vision-equipped scooters is only beginning to be understood by micromobility stakeholders, and we’re excited to be exploring these early use cases with Voi.”

 

Voi will initially install cameras on a number of e-scooters in Northampton for a two-phase pilot starting in July 2021. In the first phase, a controlled user group will road test the computer vision technology to collect real-time visual information on the environment the e-scooter is travelling through, as well as detecting pedestrians in the path of the e-scooter. The technology will also be able to detect the surface that an e-scooter is being ridden on, such as a bike lane, pavement, or roadway, and alert the rider accordingly with an audible alarm if they are riding on the footpath.

 

In the second phase of the trial later in the summer, around 100 cameras will be installed on the publicly available scooter fleet in Northampton. As well as the audible alert, this phase of the pilot will explore the potential to automatically slow scooters if inappropriate riding is detected on footpaths or in heavily pedestrianised areas.

 

Data from the pilot will be shared with the council so that it can collect a detailed record of how and where the e-scooters are being ridden, helping Voi to correct bad behaviour and enabling the city to have data driven insights into e-scooter use and the interactions with other modes of transport and pedestrians.

 

By 2022, Luna expects to be able to integrate its camera technology directly into the stem or handlebars of the e-scooters for rent.

“With computer vision e-scooters can be trained to see and recognise situations that are hazardous. This world-first pilot will set new standards of safety for this new form of transport”

“With this trial, we look forward to demonstrating how computer vision equipped e-scooters can make a verifiable difference to rider compliance and sidewalk riding behaviour in cities,” said Andrew Fleury, co-founder and CEO, Luna.

 

“We’ve noticed cities across the world requesting technological solutions to challenges like pavement riding and it’s fantastic to be working with such a safety conscious operator like Voi, in order to develop market ready solutions.

 

“The value of the smart city data that can be generated by vision-equipped scooters is only beginning to be understood by micromobility stakeholders, and we’re excited to be exploring these early use cases with Voi.”

Voi will use the Luna technology to improve compliance, not just in terms of riding behaviour, but also in relation to proper parking. The Luna parking algorithm can spot if a scooter is positioned correctly in a “virtual dock” by using a painted scooter logo or corral on the ground, or any other surrounding visual clues that it is trained to detect.

 

Using the camera as a sensor, Luna can also help e-scooters to be parked with a level of accuracy that standard GPS technology cannot match.

 

You might also like: