Next to achieving profitability, the hardest part about operating a dockless scooter start-up is keeping them charged and out of the middle of sidewalk. But one start-up is using self-driving technology and tele-operation to make the process of managing a free-floating scooter fleet easier.
Go X is an electric scooter company that has licensed technology from automated positioning technology company Tortoise. It retrofitted its scooters with training wheels of sorts and an automated self-righting kickstand that enables them to operate autonomously. These self-driving scooters are now part of a six month pilot program at Curiosity Labs in Peachtree City, Georgia that will real-world test a new mobility service where riders hail scooters that autonomously go to them.
The typical dockless bike or scooter service requires a bit luck finding a free and charged scooter close by. Go X aims to end the scooter hunt. Any visitor or employee on the 500-acre technology campus can download GoX’s app and hail a scooter similar to on-demand ridesharing programs like Uber UBER and Lyft LYFT . However, rather than a car, a scooter navigates on its own to your location. At that point, the navigating is up to the rider to get to their destination. But after ride is completed and the scooter parked, it returns on its own to the depot for recharging and complete sanitization to ensure they’re clean and fully-charged for the next person.
Powering the self-driving and repositioning system is Tortoise. Based in San Francisco, the startup licenses its artificial intelligence technology to companies such as Go X, and uses a team of remote teleoperators that are based in Mexico City to monitor the scooters as they traverse the campus. However, the scooter-hailing service and Apollo app was developed by Go X.
The rates the Go X charges for rental of its self-driving scooters are on par with other dockless scooter rentals, but the self-driving technology offers operational savings that could help it achieve a profitable business model. By not having to drive around to find and recharge its fleet of 100 scooters, the company estimates that it saves approximately 75% of traditional operational costs. Recharging the scooters after each use also increases its available up-time, and reduces the number of scooters needed to serve the campus.
“We are already seeing five times the amount of revenue we would have gotten if this was a dockless scooter business,” says Alexander Debelov, CEO of Go X.
The technology could also prevent hardware damage. Scooters are outfitted with kickstands than can push the scooter upright if they’re left on their side. And by returning to the depot immediately after each use, they won’t become obstacles cluttering doorways and sidewalks that bicyclists and strollers crash into.
Source: Forbes Business