Friday, March 1, 2024

Australian-first AI e-scooters roll in to Melton

In an Australian-first, micromobility company, Beam, is partnering with Drover AI to bring footpath detection and speed limiting technology to Victoria, with a fleet of 150 e-scooters fitted with Beam’s ‘Pedestrian Shield’ technology rolling out in a City of Melton Council trial.

The fleet of e-scooters across the city will be fitted with AI technology, with the e-scooters able to detect and correct illegal footpath riding by slowing the vehicle down, accompanied by verbal warnings. 

Powered by Drover AI’s PathPilot, an advanced IoT module, the technology is capable of detecting city infrastructure like roads, bike lanes or footpaths in real-time using an onboard camera, and delivering real-time rider education and adjusting the speed of the e-scooter. 

For the first time, e-scooters in Victoria will be programmed to reduce in speed when footpaths are detected, delivering a warning to the rider and alerting Beam to illegal riding behaviour.

“Through this trial, we aim to highlight the impact of our advanced rider enforcement technology, and determine the best approach to positively influence rider behaviour when on an e-scooter,” said Beam General Manager (ANZ), Tom Cooper. 

“With different states in Australia having different legislation governing e-rideables, Beam’s Pedestrian Shield is able to adapt to the different riding rules in each state – whether that is to enforce lower speeds on footpaths or stopping the Beam altogether. 

“The trial will help us understand the best combination of real-time rider prompts and trip intervention to support safe e-scooter use.” 

As part of an Australian-first study to determine the best way to influence e-scooter rider behaviour, Beam and Drover will utilise a unique three-group testing approach, evaluating the effectiveness of differing real-time rider feedback in influencing rider behaviour. 

Fifty e-scooters will be integrated with full Pedestrian Shield technology, featuring both audio alerts and real-time speed adjustments on footpaths, delivering a warning about illegal footpath riding and slowing the e-scooter down. 

Another 50 e-scooters will be integrated with partial Pedestrian Shield technology, delivering audio alerts only should the rider attempt to ride on the footpath, but with no speed change. 

The final 50 e-scooters will serve as the control group, with the technology detecting rider interaction with differing road surfaces but delivering no real-time feedback. 

Beam’s standard rider enforcement and education program will be in place across all 150 e-scooters.

The objective of the trial will be to gather empirical data showcasing the efficacy of the additional technology in rider education and enforcement, and observe the impact on rider compliance.

Beam and Drover will collate data from the trial, including insights on rider behaviour and rider compliance rates, and publish a whitepaper with the results to guide councils and policymakers across Australia in adopting new technologies in upcoming shared micromobility programs. 

“We’re thrilled to be working with Beam to bring Drover’s industry-leading AI-powered computer vision technology to Australia and New Zealand,” said Drover CEO, Christian Scheder-Bieschin. 

“Helping riders comply with riding and parking regulations makes everyone safer and provides a more orderly program. 

“Equally exciting for all stakeholders are the granular insights on rider behaviour and infrastructure usage that will be revealed throughout these deployments of Drover technology.”

Beam says the data from the trial will also serve to inform policymakers on the interaction between micromobility and other road users such as pedestrians and cars, to provide insights into infrastructure improvements that can support the growing number of active transport modalities on the roads. 

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