Bird, a shared micromobility operator, is on the cusp of scooter ADAS. After three years of research, the company finally announced a new technology that can detect when a rider is scouring a sidewalk and stop it slowly.
The new technology is currently being piloted on hundreds of scooters in Milwaukee and San Diego, reaching not only Madrid early next year, but other cities around the world in the coming months. Scott Rushforth, Bird’s Chief Vehicle Officer, said that all new vehicles are manufactured with this technology, and vehicles with “tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands” of sidewalk detection will be off the assembly line from now to the first. Said that it can be expected. next year’s.
This new feature is designed to address the most annoying and dangerous shared micromobility concerns in cities around the world, in partnership with the Swiss company u-blox, which manufactures wireless semiconductors and precision positioning modules. It is now possible. According to Bird, the two companies have jointly developed a unique version of u-blox’s ZED-F9R module, specifically tailored to meet the needs of the shared micromobility industry.
“It takes input from the GPS sensor and uses a dual-band GPS sensor, which is great in terms of GPS,” Rushforth told TechCrunch. “On top of that is a system called RTK, which stands for real-time kinematics. In addition, we’ve added a system that uses sensor fusion. This system has all this data and how far the wheel has gone, the scooter. GPS position information to obtain data from the vehicle itself, such as the angle at which it is tilted, so that even if the GPS signal does not work well, the actual position of the vehicle can be grasped very accurately. “
Sidewalk riders receive audio and visual alerts for violations via the mobile application and the new 16-bit color display before the scooter unthrottles and stops smoothly.
Bird says it has been exploring a variety of sidewalk detection technologies since 2019, but it’s not the only one. There seem to be two camps in the world of Micromobility Rider Assistance Systems. The first camp is a gathering of companies that use ultra-precise positioning and sensor fusion to detect and correct improper riding behavior in real time. Superpedestrian recently acquired Navmatic, allowing its positioning software to be used in a similar manner.
The second camp includes Spin, Voi, and more recently Helbiz, working with start-ups such as Drover AI and Luna to install cameras that can detect sidewalks, bike lanes, pedestrians, and more.
Computer vision companies often argue that location-based scooters ADAS are useless in areas without GPS, such as urban canyons and underground parking, but Rushforth disagrees. He says u-blox modules have advanced dead reckoning. This is basically the process of calculating the current position of a moving object using a previously determined position. GPS is likely to be the starting point, so even if the vehicle loses satellite reception altogether, it can rely on other sensors to determine how far it has traveled in which direction.
According to Bird, this module processes data such as wheel speed, acceleration, spatial direction, and kinematics, and fuses them together to create a “terrifyingly accurate” position-centimeter-level mapping. That information is passed through the vehicle’s circuit board to the company’s own operating system, Bird OS, which decides how to process the data.
Not only does this help Bird vehicles stay accurately within the geo-fence area determined by the city, but it generally has a high level of position accuracy, which helps with a variety of adjacent functions.
“If you’re in an area where GPS itself is fine without this additional technology, you might think you’re outside the parking lot enclosure and inside the car. This precision greatly improves your experience. For the parking lot, “said Rush Force.
One of the biggest costs of micromobility companies is to knock down the time spent looking for vehicles that may actually be hiding behind a trash can or, in the case of GPS, in the southwest corner. So, knowing exactly where your vehicle is can be a huge benefit. It is said to be in the northwest.
“Our entire business relies on knowing exactly where the vehicle is, so I think it will improve in an overall measurable way,” says Rushforce.
Bird said he considered several other solutions, from camera-based to ultra-wideband. It’s a type of radio technology that uses short-range, high-bandwidth communications throughout the radio spectrum, and it turns out to be the best option for scaling. ..
“Now there are solutions that don’t require much training,” says Rushforth. “All we have to do is go to the back end and show where the sidewalk is, so we can scale this very quickly, probably about $ 10 or $ 12 per car. I just spend a lot. “
Camera-based solutions, on the other hand, can cost about $ 200 per vehicle to get the hardware and services up and running, and can shrink to $ 80 per vehicle over time. But it’s still a fair amount for companies that aren’t doing business yet. I figured out how to make a profit.
“If I had a crystal ball, I think everyone will copy it in the next 24 months, as this is the only way to do it in a cost-effective way,” Rushforth said. Stated.
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