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New technology is coming to e-scooters. Does it make things safer?

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Can new technology born from research on self-driving cars renew the landscape of electric scooters that have rattled government leaders and pushed pedestrians to the limit for the past four years?

The rentable electric scooter arrived in Salt Lake City three years ago. It’s about the same as making its debut in an unregulated, and at least unwelcome way to some people, announced in cities around the world.

Scooter is easy to ride (and very enjoyable) and is widely welcomed by experts as an excellent one, but one of the most difficult parts of public transport puzzles is the seasonal remedy, the so-called first mile and last mile. Resolve the connection. Go to the transportation hub from our home or from work and come back again.

But the biggest blow to vehicles in Utah and elsewhere is a nightmare when mixed with pedestrian traffic (mostly deluxe sidewalks in Salt Lake City). The scooter also poses potential dangers and obstacles if the rider inadvertently drops it in the middle of the aisle, near the entrance to the company, where wheelchairs and people with disabilities do not have access to buildings and public transport stops. Cause

A nifty motorcycle works through the software on your smartphone to help users find available vehicles and pay for their rides. It usually costs $ 1 to unlock and travel costs 30-40 cents per mile.

Spin Morning Shift Leader Devin Young Blood will ride one of the company’s e-scooters on Tuesday, March 9, 2021 on the main streets of Salt Lake City. Spin has developed a new technology that provides feedback to the rider.Steve Griffin on an electric scooter, Deseret News

Today, riders operate illegally by combining new technology with cameras that allow each scooter to see its surface, combined with on-board computing capabilities that improve over time and adapt to changing cityscapes. You can detect that.

When that happens, the device can trigger a beep or slowly crawl the vehicle until it returns to the road or bike lane. The same system can also detect that the scooter is parked in a place where it should not be parked and emit another separate voice signal until the vehicle is placed in an approved area.

In short, innovation is set to be a game changer.

The first US-based version of the rentable electric scooter platform appeared in California in 2017, but it will take until next summer for Salt Lake City to see its own motorcycle on the street (and yes, sidewalk) on arrival. It was expected, but it still fell without warning in the darkness of the night.

Since then, as many as six operators have tried to seduce Salt Lake riders with almost the same system in terms of software, from rugged and over-built flagship cars to all-plastic versions that look more like toys than toys. We are deploying various electric scooters. Commuter vehicle. One company also tried a seated version. Everything is for one rider, but I comfortably accommodated a 7 year old kid for occasional duo rides around Liberty Park.

In the process, Salt Lake City took a few shots to limit the expansion of free scooters, setting a limit on the total number of scooters a single vendor could put on the road, and those vehicles going. We have stipulated where you can and cannot do it. Instructions include the provision of bonuses to ensure that neighborhoods with the greatest challenges of transit access, such as the western area of ​​the highway, drop off on a regular basis.

Performance Carrots are balanced with potentially fine sticks for vendors who do not respond quickly to removing scooters left in dangerous or improper locations.

But as a matter of resources and simple logistics, enforcement is essentially non-existent. When was the last time you saw Police Officer Beat walking down the streets of downtown? What’s more, how do you deal with the hot chase of fraudulent scooter riders?

In 2020, I have several years, including resident communications with Salt Lake officials on issues related to e-scooters, and the results of a transport sector-supervised study that collected local sentiment about e-scooters. I wrote a story that analyzes a minute record.

The overwhelming majority of those emails opposed their use, citing dangerous sidewalk encounters and unplanned parking. And urban research efforts have shown significant divisions, with widespread support from those who have tried scooters and, in most cases, criticism from those who did not have them.

A downtown resident who wrote that electric scooter riders routinely threaten pedestrians called for a total ban on dangerous vehicles, but instead wanted to see enhanced enforcement. I was thinking.

I feel that the city should completely ban the use of electric scooters and electric bicycles, but at least it should be controlled by city ordinances and strict enforcement, the email sender writes. I and all other downtown residents walking on the sidewalk face the physical threat and emotional sacrifice of unexpected serious injuries on a daily basis, destroying the livability and walkability of downtown Salt Lake. doing. The time for our actions is now. Members of the city council are needed to guide the process of banning or strictly controlling and enforcing these dangerous vehicles.

Many of the letters rang in a similar tone, and members of the council passed a series of drastic rule changes at the end of last year. The effort codifies the guidelines that are part of the interim agreement that Salt Lake City’s electric scooter business has been operating for the past few years, and individuals who cheat on scooters that can reach $ 750 per vehicle. Added some new measures, including possible fines for incidents.

Of course, these new missions came at the end of the year when the streets of the state capital were subdued by the influence of COVID-19, and negative encounters were not just a problem.

But with the first sparkle of spring and the post-vaccination world appearing on the horizon, city officials are currently reducing the number of four groups of e-scooter vendors to one or two.

Some applicants (although city officials mysteriously refuse to say some) are former Bay Area startups that were acquired by Detroit powerhouse Ford Motor Company for $ 100 million a few years ago. There is a spin.

Unlike some competitors, Spin took the time to notify, obtain a license, work with Salt Lake leaders, and then distribute a bright orange vehicle to the streets in 2019. Provided me a demo on the market and last week.

Try as much as you can. I couldn’t trick the system into failing. Each time I rolled on the sidewalk, I heard a clear drum beat warning within a second, and sudden on / off operations were immediately detected.

The pedestrian crossing also gets its own audible signal to warn the rider, and another signal indicates the preferred operating space when scouring downtown when in the designated bike lane.

Ado Milicevic, Spin Operations Manager at Salt Lake City, said the technology developed by a company called Drover is 95% accurate right from the gate and quickly closes that small gap thanks to a machine learning process that transforms Salt Lake’s test drive. I said it was filling. For better sensing.

Milicevic also said that the system can be associated with individual users and could be part of a system that could penalize riders who commit consecutive violations by suspending access to their accounts. Said.

The technology developed by Drover artificial intelligence is similar to the in-vehicle sensor / computing innovation being developed for self-driving cars, which connects directly to the scooter drivetrain and automatically when the vehicle enters a banned rider zone. You can slow down the speed to recognize the following operational power outage areas. Completely park your vehicle at Temple Square, Gulliven Plaza, and private parking in Salt Lake City.

Our collective experience with high-tech advances shows that there are few innovations that can be a panacea that may seem blushing at first, but Salt Lake City has this fun and effective New micro transport option.

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