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Shared micromobility company Voi is deploying e-scooters in Oslo, Norway with Drover AI’s computer vision tech that can identify whether a scooter is on the pavement, road or cycle lane in order to help prevent sidewalk riding.
As the micromobility industry consolidates around a few key players and cities become more discerning about which operators they allow on their streets, operators are looking for ways to appear more attractive to cities. If there’s one thing cities seem to hate more than scooters riding on sidewalks, it’s taking ownership for why scooter riders are on sidewalks in the first place and responding with dedicated bike lanes. As a result, it operators like Voi have turned to advanced rider assistance systems to give them a good reputation.
And it appears to be working.
Voi, which has been operating in Oslo for over two years, recently had its tender extended another year, alongside Tier and Bolt (Bolt is another one of Drover’s customers, as well as Spin, Beam, Helbiz and Fenix). The inclusion of Drover’s tech was one of the reasons Voi’s Safety & Parking score on its application ranked the highest out of the 12 companies that also participated, according to someone familiar with the matter.
Out of the 2,000 scooters the Swedish startup is deploying in Oslo, hundreds with be equipped with Drover’s PathPilot AI technology over the next few months. Drover’s tech is capable not only of detecting when a rider is on the sidewalk or parking a scooter inappropriately, but it can also alert the rider of their transgressions and even slow them to a stop. These more involved capabilities are at the discretion of the operator and the city, and Voi has not yet clarified how or if it will step in should a rider be misbehaving.
This isn’t Voi’s first time deploying camera-based technology to prevent scooters riding or parking on sidewalks. Last summer, Voi launched a pilot in the U.K. with Dublin-based Luna that investigates how smart AI cameras could help better enable scooter parking, prevent sidewalk riding and avoid potential hazards. The Drover partnership is similar, although it will also help improve geofencing to govern how and where scooters are ridden and parked, and it will be done at scale, a Voi spokesperson told TechCrunch.
Voi also intends to use its collaboration with Drover to build a record of where and how scooters are being ridden in Oslo. PathPilot will automatically deliver insights on fleet use or rider behavior which Voi says it can share with Oslo City Council to help improve the service by optimizing locations of e-scooters or recognizing fallen scooters to be picked up by Voi workers, said the company.