Bird vehicles can now accurately detect sidewalk riding and slow riders to a stop

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The shared micromobility operator Bird is getting on the scooter ADAS bandwagon. After three years of research, the company has finally launched new technology that can detect when a rider is driving a scooter on the pavement and slowly stop them.

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The new technology is currently being rolled out to hundreds of scooters in Milwaukee and San Diego, and is expected to reach Madrid early next year, as well as other cities around the world in the coming months. Bird’s Chief Vehicle Officer Scott Rushforth said all new vehicles are being built with the technology in mind, and we can expect “tens or hundreds of thousands” of pavement-detection-equipped vehicles to come off the assembly line between now and debut. Will go of next year.

The new facility, designed to address the most annoying and dangerous shared micromobility concern of cities everywhere, is made possible through a partnership with U-blox, a Swiss company that produces wireless semiconductors and high-precision positioning modules. Is. Together the two companies have developed a unique version of u-blox ZED-F9R ModuleSpecifically designed to meet the needs of the shared micromobility industry, according to Bird.


“It takes input from the GPS sensor, and it uses a dual-band GPS sensor, which is one of the best in terms of GPS,” Rushforth told Nerdshala. “What we’ve added on top of that is a system called RTK, which is for real-time kinematics. And then we’ve added a system on top of that that uses sensor fusion that captures all this data as well as the vehicle. It also takes data, such as how far the wheel has gone or what angle the scooter is leaning, and includes GPS location so that it can get an extremely accurate view of exactly where the vehicle is, even where it is. Even times where the GPS signal doesn’t work very well.”

Riders on the sidewalk will receive audio and visual alerts of their offenses via a mobile application and a new 16-bit color display before removing the scooter’s throttle and bringing themselves to an easy stop.

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Bird says it’s been exploring different pavement detection technologies since 2019, and it’s not quite alone. In the world of micromobility rider-assistance systems, there seem to be two camps: The first camp is populated by companies that rely on super precise positioning and sensor fusion to detect bad riding behavior and correct it in real time. Superpedestrian recently acquired Navmatic to use the company’s positioning software in a similar fashion.

In the second camp, we have the likes of Spin, Voi and, most recently, Hellbiz, working with startups like Drover AI and Luna to attach cameras that measure things like sidewalks, bike lanes and pedestrians. can find out.

Computer vision companies have often argued that location-based scooter ADAS is useless in areas without GPS, such as urban canyons or underground parking garages, but Rushforth disagrees. He says that U-Blox’s module has advanced dead reckoning, which is basically a process of calculating the current position of a moving object using a predetermined position. GPS will likely be the starting point, so even if the vehicle loses satellite reception completely, it can still rely on other sensors to track how far it has moved in either direction.

According to Bird, the module processes data such as wheel speed, acceleration, spatial orientation and kinematics and fuses it together to come up with “creepy accurate” location and centimeter-level mappings. That information is sent via the vehicle’s circuit board to the company’s proprietary operating system Bird OS, which then decides what to do with the data.

Not only does this help Bird vehicles stay accurately within city-determined geo-zones, but generally having a high level of positioning accuracy helps with a range of adjacent facilities.

“If you’re in an area where the GPS by itself, without all this extra technology, is fine, you can walk out of the parking corral and the vehicle thinks it’s in, so this high precision makes the experience a whole lot better.” for parking,” Rushforth said.

Operations, which is one of the biggest costs to micromobility companies, can also see huge benefits from knowing where vehicles are, reducing the time spent searching for a vehicle that’s behind a trashcan or really south. Can be hidden on the west corner when the GPS says it is in the northwest.

“I would say that our entire business is going to get better in measurable ways across the board, because a lot of it depends on knowing where the vehicles are,” Rushforth said.

Bird said it has explored a number of other solutions, from camera-based to ultra-wideband, a form of radio technology that uses short-range, high-bandwidth communication across a radio spectrum, but scaling it down. Considered to be the best option. .

“Now we have a solution that we don’t need a lot of training,” Rushforth said. “All we have to do is go to our rear end and show where the sidewalks are, and then we can increase that very quickly, and we’re only spending $10 or $12 more per vehicle.”

Camera-based solutions, hardware and services, on the other hand, can cost operators about $200 per vehicle to start up, which can increase to $80 per vehicle over time, but it’s still worth it for such a business. There is a lot of money that has not yet been found out how to be profitable.

“If I had a crystal ball, I would say that in the next 24 months everyone will copy us because that’s the only way to do it in a cost-effective way,” Rushforth said.

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