Spin has partnered with the technology platform Drover to produce its next-generation e-scooter known as Spin Insight Level 2. Each new e-scooter will come with a black box housing Drover’s sensor and camera system, which uses artificial intelligence to identify sidewalks, streets and bike lanes. The technology can also detect if users are parking the rides incorrectly and can trigger warning sounds if a rider uses it on sidewalks.
The move is meant to give Spin data on riding behavior and allow a shift toward more advanced safety technologies in the future, the company said.
“This is Spin’s latest step in building trust in e-scooters among consumers and cities,” Derrick Ko, Spin’s CEO, said in a statement. The announcement also follows efforts by other e-scooter companies to usher in an era of rider-assistance technology after cities clamped down on motorized scooters to slow a growing number of accidents.
Cities also took issue with how often people dumped scooters in places they didn’t belong.
In October, D.C. set limits on how many e-scooters can operate in the city and rolled out new rules for parking and locking them up. The following month, U.K.-based Voi kicked off a test fleet of e-scooters with pedestrian-detection features in England and announced plans to bring those innovations to the United States in 2021.
Spin says it has submitted an application to roll out its new scooters in New York City in the spring. After that, it aims to hit other metro areas.
“With nearly all municipalities prohibiting scooter use on sidewalks, Spin Insight data ... can be used as a key tool by cities to help enforce local regulations and promote safe riding behaviors in dense, urban environments like New York City,” Ko said.
Spin’s plan comes at a critical time for the micromobility industry.
The booming e-scooter business came to a screeching halt in mid-March as the coronavirus crisis picked up steam across the globe. The sector shrank by as much as 70 percent but has recovered somewhat as people emerged from shutdown orders.
Spin, which expanded to 100 new U.S. cities in 2019, says users grew more dependent on its rides during the pandemic as many sought to avoid mass transportation. The company’s new camera system is a step toward deploying more advanced safety features such as forward collision avoidance and wrong-way-riding detection, Ko said.
The e-scooter company was snapped up by Ford in 2018 for a reported $100 million. At the time, it operated across 13 cities and campuses in the United States. The acquisition enabled the e-scooter maker to scale tremendously. Over the past two years, the team has grown from about 24 employees to more than 600 as it expanded to Britain in February.