Swiss GPS stops e-scooters on sidewalks

Swiss GPS stops e-scooters on sidewalks

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

Satellite navigation is of course a key element of mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) systems to know where e-scooters for example are parked and ready for use.

One of the leading e-scooter rental companies, Bird, is working with u-blox in Switzerland on the first system micromobility devices from being used on sidewalks and footpaths. The rollout of such system in 300 cities worldwide such as London, Paris and Madrid, shows that stopping e-scooters being used on sidewalks and pavements is a key safety requirement.

The Smart Sidewalk Protection sensor-fusion system tracks location with centimeter-level precision. By combining u-blox’s ZED-F9R high precision dead reckoning module with centimeter-level sidewalk mapping and Bird’s suite of onboard vehicle sensors, the integrated system effectively and efficiently detects and prevents sidewalk or footpath riding in real time.

For example, as opposed to traditional GPS with cloud-based maps that can take more than 15 seconds to respond, the smart sidewalk protection can safely bring a vehicle that has entered onto a sidewalk to a safe stop while allowing the rider to walk the vehicle back to the roadway or bike lane.

“Everything we build at Bird is centered around safety and scalability, sidewalk riding detection is no exception,” said Scott Rushforth, Chief Vehicle Officer at Bird. “After three years of building, testing, and piloting a range of technologies including but not limited to on board cameras, GPS tracking, ultra-wideband, and beacons, we found that each was insufficient with regard to accuracy, precision, immediacy, or scalability. Our testing led us to a collaboration with u-blox which resulted in the development of our end-to-end sensor fusion solution that meets our criteria.”

“We are very excited about this collaboration between u-blox and Bird,” said Alex Ngi, Product Manager Positioning at u-blox. “Our centimeter-level precise GNSS positioning technology will now be implemented in the expanding micromobility industry, strengthening our contribution to a safer and more ecological world.”

Bird’s sidewalk detection technology is currently being piloted in Milwaukee and San Diego, and is expected to be piloted in Madrid in early 2022.

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