If you live in a city where e-scooter companies are allowed to operate, there’s a good chance you’ve stumbled upon a lone scooter far from its counterparts. These can be an annoyance, especially if they’re clogging up a busy sidewalk. Spin wants to address that problem. The Ford-owned subsidiary is working with a company called Tortoise to deploy a feature called Spin Valet to its next-generation of e-scooters that will allow them to remotely move between locations.
While there’s a machine learning component to Spin’s Valet technology, they’ll be remote operators reparking the scooters with the help of front- and rear-facing cameras. That should hopefully help the company avoid some of the fails Tesla has run into with its Smart Summon feature. Spin Valet will eventually allow you to call an S-200 to your location, either in advance of a trip or as you’re looking for a ride. So say your daily commute involves a 15-minute walk from a metro station to your office, you’ll be able to use the feature to set a scheduled pickup. At some point, Spin also plans to use the technology to automatically move its scooters to a nearby charging hub.
Spin will first test 300 S-200 scooters in Boise, Idaho starting this spring before bringing them to other markets in Europe and North America throughout 2021 and beyond. The company worked with Segway to design and develop the model. It features a three-wheel drive system, with another three independent braking systems. You’ll also find turn signals on the handlebars and near the rear wheel. Together, the company claims those features make for a safer ride since the S-200 can withstand more adverse road conditions.
As you might have guessed, Spin isn’t the only company trying to leverage machine learning and cameras to make its scooters smarter. Near the end of 2020, a competitor in Europe called Voi started testing its own take on the technology. Like Spin, Voi said it would help it keep its scooters from cluttering up city streets. It seems only a matter of time before more companies deploy similar features to their fleets since it promises to both streamline their operating costs and combat some of the stigma e-scooters have earned thanks to inconsiderate customers.