Micromobility of the future: will scooters replace cars and are they safe?

Almost all countries have a problem with the last mile - short distance travel. This is the way from home to

subway, from the office to the fitness center, from the busstops to a cafe - the distance that we usually cover on foot, by car, taxi or bus. In recent years, micromobility means such as bicycles, electric bicycles, electric scooters have been competing with these modes of transportation – thanks to bicycle and kicksharing services, they are turning into a type of urban transport.

In the road traffic of megacities, fundsmicromobility has a big advantage: during rush hour, a scooter will get to the metro much faster than a bus. As for small towns, sharing allows you to get to places where public transport does not go, and at the same time save on taxis.

In many ways, bicycles and scooters can replacea private car: according to McKinsey, about 60% of car trips in the world are made at a distance of less than 5 km. It is convenient to overcome such distances by sharing means: with them, you can choose a shorter route and avoid traffic jams. And for cities, this trend is very favorable in terms of environmental conditions.

From Australia to Russia

The micromobility trend has already been picked upmany countries in different regions of the world: in particular, Australia, Korea, India and the UAE. In China, electric scooters without a seat are banned, but the problem of the last mile is being solved with the help of bicycles, e-bikes and scooters.

There are countries in Europe where the authorities resistthe spread of kick and bike sharing: for example, Spain or Italy - but, despite this, the trend in the region is actively developing. Micromobility aids are especially popular in Finland, where they are used even in winter. This is an exceptional situation, as the streets become too slippery for bicycles and scooters during the cold season. But in Finland, especially in Helsinki, the roads are constantly cleaned and flooded, so they are safe for travel.

Micromobility facilities are available in North and SouthAmerica - Canada, Mexico and the USA. In South America, however, there are obstacles: a serious competition for bicycles and scooters is a very cheap taxi. Finally, the demand for sharing is also high in Russia: according to a study by PwC and VEB.RF, 13% of residents of Russian cities (except Moscow and St. Petersburg) would prefer to get to work or school by bicycle or scooter. Now only 4% do it.

In theory, micromobility aids canbe used wherever there are people and roads. But in reality, barriers often work - for example, bans from the administration or low solvency of the population. In addition, the means of sharing themselves are not always necessary. For example, in Indonesia, scooters and bicycles have no chance as transport, as they lose out to scooters, a faster and more convenient means of transportation. Not all islands have public transport, so the problem of the “last mile” is simply not on them - the whole trip is overcome on one vehicle. In addition, the country has a big problem with sidewalks: in many places they simply do not exist, and the roads themselves are overloaded with cars and bikes.

In addition, micromobility means are notrelevant in the private sector. To cover an area with a low population density, a scooter must be placed near almost every house. For example, the largest kicksharing services try to place parking lots so that they are always within 200 meters. In Moscow, such parking will cover a couple of skyscrapers and a couple of lower houses, that is, scooters will potentially be in demand among several hundred people. If you put the scooter in the private sector in the United States, residents of about four houses will be able to use it - just a few families.

Control Technologies

To transform micromobility intourban transport needs not only the consent of the administration, but also the technological base. To be able to find the nearest parking, unlock and lock the scooter or bike, they must be linked to the control platform. At the dawn of the industry, many companies used Bluetooth for this, but now most services work using IoT modules (Internet of Things) - in particular, we do this. IoT modules can be different: from simple ones that can broadcast the position of the device and unlock the scooter, to advanced ones with many sensors, speed control, computer vision, and so on. The main advantage of the module is that with the help of it the scooter can transmit data about the trip to the control platform and independently make decisions for greater travel safety.

Another important security measure isautomatic deceleration when the driver enters certain areas: parks, squares, embankments, where there are many pedestrians. So, for example, the scooters of the kicksharing company Bolt and all the largest Russian services work. We have added an automatic schedule to these zones so that the speed does not decrease during those hours when there is no heavy traffic.

But in reality, the density of human traffic is notalways depends on the time of day. Therefore, now we are working on a computer vision module that will recognize whether a person is in a crowd or on a free street. Thus, the speed limit will not work according to the schedule, but if necessary. In addition, computer vision will be able to recognize obstacles on the way and change the road surface and warn about it in advance.

In testing the road surface farthe American company Lime has advanced, which has learned to determine where the scooter rides: on the sidewalk or on the road. For this, accelerometers and sensors are used, the information from which is processed by artificial intelligence. The company developed the technology after pedestrians complained that scooters were too fast. Now, if a person has driven more than 50% of the way on the sidewalks, the system will send him a warning.

Ahead of the planet

An important role in the development of micromobility servicesplay big data. The IoT module transmits a lot of information about trips to the system, on the basis of which it is possible to build heat maps of traffic, decide where to install parking lots, recognize customer habits, and build routes. For example, a routing system may avoid underpasses because a scooter is more difficult to get down and up stairs than a bicycle.

In general, the collection and analysis of data for transportfunds is one of the pillars of the V2X (Vehicle-to-Everything) concept. The concept implies that the vehicle can exchange information with other road users and road infrastructure facilities in order to make independent decisions.

In road transport, before the implementation of thisideas are still far away, but in the case of scooters and bicycles, everything is much simpler. With the help of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, with the appropriate protocol, scooters can exchange information with each other. It is more difficult to get data from cars and road infrastructure - but this issue can be partially solved using computer vision and neural networks.

hoverboard autopilot

In terms of technology, micromobility is alreadyfar ahead of cars. In particular, elements of autonomy have already been added to them. A good example is the vehicle speed limit that Ford is testing. On electric scooters, this technology appeared last year and has already proven its effectiveness. It can be said that bike and kickshares in many ways pave the way for the rest of the transport.

Seems like the next step in developmentautonomy - the creation of an autopilot function, when the algorithms will independently control vehicles. But if we talk about a scooter, for now, a person must manage it himself in order to maintain balance. Therefore, to implement the autopilot, it will be necessary to somehow solve the problem of stability - for example, replace two wheels with three. Such a three-wheeled scooter is already in the American spin sharing service, but its idea is not an autopilot, but the “delivery” of the scooter to the client.

In general, autonomous control on the meansmicromobility is much more real than in cars - primarily because of their safety. If the autopilot in a car will inevitably face ethical dilemmas (the famous example about the choice between the death of pedestrians and passengers), then a scooter and a bicycle do not carry such high risks. They have significantly less weight, lower speed - and if you look at the statistics, most accidents occur precisely with private vehicles.

If you try to be visionaries, micromobiletransport, which closes the question of the last mile, will not lose its relevance in the foreseeable future. And even when the development possibilities of electric scooters and electric bicycles are exhausted, they will be replaced by hoverboards from Back to the Future, flying unicycles or something else.

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