Photo by Phil Adams

Advanced tracking, voice guidance and emergency 999 buttons: e-scooters are more than a simple transport alternative

Neuron Mobility weighs in on a transport revolution ahead of its launch in the UK

E-scooters could become a key new mode of transport after the Government legalised the use of shared e-scooters this month, to give people a more individual transport option that allows them to continue social distancing in the wake of COVID-19. As well as helping to get the area moving again, e-scooters reduce congestion, improve local air quality, and help towns and cities hit their decarbonisation targets, all this while moving people away from gas-guzzling alternatives.

Local Authorities across the UK are now looking at the possibility of running e-scooter trials over the next 12 months, and key priorities are likely to be safety and how they are used. There are significant differences between many shared e-scooters and those private e-scooters that are commonly seen on many cities’ streets. Shared e-scooters are generally more robust as they have been built for sharing and they also have a number of low, and high-tech, safety features, which can give the council more control over how they are used. 

For example, towns and cities up and down the country could benefit from always- connected e-scooters with inbuilt GPS technology. Combined with geofencing this can dictate and control exactly where e-scooters can be ridden and parked, and how fast they can travel in different areas. The technology can be used to create ‘slow zones’, where the maximum riding speed is automatically reduced, such as around a school or nursery. This feature can also be used to create ‘no-go’ zones, keeping e-scooters off dual carriageways for example, and ‘no parking’ zones, giving councils the power to control the travel of e- scooters through a particular area, and to determine where they are allowed to be left. 

Another important safety feature which is not seen on private e-scooters is a helmet integrated into every model. Neuron, a technology-leading company vying for shared e- scooter contracts, has an app-controlled helmet lock which secures a helmet to every e- scooter so all riders get the choice to wear one. Helmet use is being highly recommended for riders in case of any collisions or falls, and this type of feature dramatically increases their use, while also removing the need for individuals to buy and use their own. 

Other features include a ‘999 emergency button’ which helps connect the rider to emergency services if the e-scooter detects a fall, and voice guidance which enables the e- scooter to talk, giving training, guidance and safety warnings when needed. 

Complementary to this is a “Follow My Ride” function. This has been developed by Neuron in response to feedback from users who want to share their location with selected friends and family, giving them reassurance that they have completed their journey safely, particularly at night time. This can be activated through an app which provides a URL to a tracking page which can be shared directly by the user and expires at the end of the trip. 

There is also a topple detection sensor that can detect if the e-scooter has been left on its side – this alerts an operations team who can then reposition it safely. Some rental e- scooters like Neuron’s also have wider foot plates and bigger wheels than private models, which makes them more stable, easier to ride comfortably, and also reduces the likelihood of a fall. 

So, the e-scooters that could be destined for British streets are likely to look and behave very differently to the private ones seen today. The extra safety features, the enhanced tracking, and the ability to centrally regulate their use, should provide the best chance for success for the pilot shared e-scooter programmes. 

Zachary Wang, CEO of Australia and New Zealand’s leading e-scooter sharing company, Neuron Mobility, said: “We are delighted with the government’s recent decision to legalise shared e-scooters in the UK. No two towns and cities are the same so we look forward to working with individual councils to launch e-scooters in a safe and convenient way that best suits them.’ 

He continued: “Safety is paramount, our e-scooters are packed with features that protect riders and also help control how they are ridden which ultimately safeguards those in the community. We have a number of world-first features and innovations like our app-controlled Helmet Lock, Voice Guidance, Topple Detection, a 999 Emergency Button and many more. Plus we have more UK-focused safety features in the pipeline.” 

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