Research from micromobility provider Bird appears to resolve a question that probably isn’t uppermost in riders’ minds when they hire a scooter, but might be by the time they return it. Shocks or no shocks?
Most shared scooters rely on one of two tyre models, explains Bird, either solid/semi-solid tyres with suspension “shocks” or pneumatic tyres without them. A scooter’s tyres are also one of the most critical components impacting traction and stability, argues Bird, so it’s important for shared micromobility providers to invest in designs that improve vehicle safety.
Bird’s approach has been to work with a tyre manufacturer to develop an automotive-grade 6-ply tubeless pneumatic scooter tyre specifically designed for the rigors of the shared micromobility industry.
But is the right solution? That was the question Bird recently set out to address at its R&D facility in Southern California.
Its engineers compared a Bird Three scooter equipped with custom pneumatic tyres and a mass-produced scooter model used by many operators worldwide with semi-solid tyres and shocks.
The tests were designed to test the two core assumptions underpinning Bird’s approach. Firstly, pneumatic tyres tend to offer better shock absorption over a wider variety of common street surfaces including gravel and cobblestone.
And secondly, while solid tyres become rigid with dropping temperatures, decreasing their traction when it’s needed most, the air in pneumatic tyres compresses in colder temperatures making them softer and more compliant.
Both scooters were fitted with handlebar-mounted instrumentation to detect the vertical acceleration that would be experienced by riders as jolts and vibrations. Bird then ran each scooter multiple times down test tracks over a range of surfaces including gravel, cobblestone and a wide variety of other simulated street surfaces that riders encounter across the globe.
In each test, the tubeless pneumatic tyre performed better than the solid tyre with shocks, experiencing on average 33% less vertical acceleration.
“This reduction in vibrations is significant because it means 33% more stability and control for riders when experiencing everyday bumps and uneven road conditions” said Scott Rushforth, Chief Vehicle Officer at Bird. “Pneumatics are demonstrably better at damping vibration and low-frequency bumps than solid or semi-solid tyres with suspension, and this most recent testing clearly validates that.”
In addition to the safety benefits that come with fewer vibrations and better handling and stability on bumpy streets, Bird’s says its pneumatic tyres have a hidden environmental benefit. Limiting the amount of shaking cuts down on premature wear and tear, increasing sustainability. Pneumatic tyres can also easily be changed when damaged, salvaging the wheel hub, while solids are typically serviced by replacing the entire wheel or motor assembly.
MOVE, which takes place at ExCeL London on 15/16 June, is an opportunity to hear from senior Bird executives including Victoria Springthorpe, Head of UK & Ireland Public Policy and James Padden, General Manager – UK & Ireland. With over 600 speakers across 33 themed stages MOVE is the world’s most important mobility event. Find further details here
Following six months of extensive on-campus testing and more than 650 test runs, Michigan State University’s full-size autonomous electric bus initiative has started accepting passengers on a 2.5-mile campus route.
The 22-seat Karsan Autonomous e-ATAK bus, believed to be one of the largest of its kind to be deployed on public US roads to date, was recently approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The project is a collaboration with the State of Michigan, bus manufacturer Karsan and Michigan-based ADASTEC, which develops SAE Level-4 automated driving software platforms for commercial vehicles.
ADASTEC’s flowride.ai software platform incorporates a range of sensor, safety and mapping equipment on the bus that also supports data sharing, mission control and fleet management operations. The bus is also fitted with a wheelchair ramp along with audio messaging for accessibility.
Traffic lights along the 2.5-mile route are equipped with intelligent roadside units which communicate with the bus to enable vehicle to infrastructure interoperability. A licensed safety driver and operator from ADASTEC’s Ann Arbor office will be on-board at all times.
Michigan State University will study and analyse various aspects of the project, from vehicle to infrastructure communication technologies to the user experience for people with disabilities.
China- and US-based autonomous driving technology company Pony.ai has been awarded a permit to operate 100 autonomous vehicles as traditional fee-charging taxis in Nansha, Guangzhou, making it the first autonomous driving company to obtain a taxi license in China.
From May, Pony.ai will operate commercial services across the 800 square kilometres of Nansha and intends to gradually expand the scale and scope to other areas of Guangzhou. Passengers can hail rides and pay for the service through the PonyPilot+ App with fares based on local standard taxi pricing. While the service will initially operate with a safety driver, the company expects to remove the driver in the near future.
In qualifying for the license, Pony.ai had to achieve various qualification criteria set by national inspection institutions including a minimum of 24 months of autonomous driving and a million kilometres travelled, with at least 200,000 km within the proposed operational area, and no involvement in any active liability traffic accidents.
Pony.ai says the license award signals the Guangzhou government’s formal implementation of autonomous mobility services alongside traditional taxi and ride-hailing platforms. “Being China’s first autonomous vehicle company to receive a taxi license is a testament to Pony.ai’s technological strength and ability to operate robotaxi services. We will expand the scale of our services, provide quality travel experiences and create an industry benchmark for robotaxi services and continue to lead the commercialisation of robotaxis and robotrucks,” said James Peng, co-founder and CEO of Pony.ai.
“Both government policy and the public are increasingly accepting robotaxis as a form of everyday transportation, recognizing the ride experience and technical stability of Pony.ai’s robotaxi,” said Tiancheng Lou, co-founder and CTO of Pony.ai.
Pony.ai’s has been running trial robotaxi services in Beijing and Guangzhou since December 2018. As of mid-April 2022, it had completed more than 700,000 trips, with nearly 80% repeat users and 99% of the passengers giving positive comments and a service satisfaction rating of 4.9 on a 5-point scale.
Transport for London (TfL), the body responsible for most of the transport network in London including buses, the underground and overland trains, has banned all privately-owned e-scooters and e-unicycles from its transport network with immediate effect.
This is the result, says TfL, of safety concerns following recent fires. Customers in possession of such devices will not be permitted to enter any premises on TfL’s network or travel on any of its services, including on the Tube, buses, Overground, TfL Rail, Trams and DLR.
In response to recent incidents, TfL has undertaken further work to review the safety of the vehicles and their suitability for carriage on the TfL transport network.
This review has found that the incidents were caused by defective lithium-ion batteries, which ruptured without warning. This led to fires that caused toxic smoke to be released.
TfL consider that if this were to happen again and fires occurred in an enclosed area like a Tube train or a bus, there could be harm to both customers and staff, as well as secondary injuries from customers trying to escape the area.
Whilst privately owned e-scooters remain illegal to use in public spaces, they are widely available for purchase. Private e-scooters and e-unicycles are currently unregulated, meaning they are not currently required to meet any minimum vehicle standards.
TfL added it will keep these changes under review pending any future changes to legislation by the government regarding e-scooters and e-unicycles, specifically around safety standards.
Additionally, TfL is collecting data from the rental e-scooter trials to help shape future policy on safety standards in London and the rest of the UK. TfL’s trial of rental e-scooters, which began in June 2021 as part of trials permitted nationally by the Department for Transport (DfT), offer the only e-scooters legally allowed on London’s roads.
These rental e-scooters are also not currently allowed on TfL services.
Lilli Matson, TfL’s chief safety, health and environment officer, said, “Our primary concern is always for the safety of our customers and staff. We have been extremely worried by the recent incidents on our public transport services, which involved intense fires and considerable smoke and damage.
“We have worked with London Fire Brigade to determine how we should deal with these devices and, following that review, we have decided to ban them. Customers who try to bring them onto our network will be refused access to our stations and premises, and not be permitted to use any of our services.”
The ban does not apply to mobility scooters or foldable e-bikes. TfL said e-bikes are generally subject to better manufacturing standards and the batteries are usually positioned in a place where they are less likely to be damaged, and so are less of a fire risk.
Non-foldable e-bikes will continue to be allowed on some parts of the network at certain times of the day.
Shirly Kalush, Chief Security Officer withIsraeli shared multimodal mobility operator GoTo Global emphasises the need for multimodality and how it can be achieved. Slides presented in the ticketing + payments track at Move 2021 in London on 10 November.
Lamprini Papafoti, Future Mobility Officer with the West Midlands Combined Authority in England explains the use of mobility credits as a way of encouraging people out of their cars. Slides presented in the ticketing + payments track at Move 2021 in London on 10 November.
Juan Corro Beseler, CIO with EMT Madrid, the company charged with the planning and running the Spanish capital’s urban transport explains how the Covid pandemic has accelerated contactless payments. Slides presented in the ticketing + payments track at Move 2021 in London on 10 November.
Rikesh Shah, Head of Commercial Innovation at Transport for London describes how TfL is selecting and working with market innovators to solve London’s challenges. Slides presented in the tech, data and innovation track at Move 2021 in London on 10 November.
Anders Truelsen, Chief Revenue Officer with Israeli connected car data platform Otonomo looks at how connected data can upgrade traffic management systems. Slides presented in the smart cities + infrastructure track at Move 2021 in London on 10 November.
Dan Elbaze and Javier Krysztal from Israeli connected car data platform Otonomo set the scene for the lunchtime roundtable. Slides presented in the smart cities + infrastructure track at Move 2021 in London on 10 November.
Anna Schindler, Zurich’s Director of Urban Development describes becoming a 2000-Watt society and how to make smart cities energy smart. Slides presented in the smart cities + infrastructure track at Move 2021 in London on 10 November.
Raoul Schmidt-Lamontain, the City of Heidelberg’s Deputy Mayor for Climate Protection, Environment & Mobility, outlines measures taken by the German town to reduce car dependency. Slides presented in the smart cities + infrastructure track at Move 2021 in London on 10 November.
Glynn Barton, Network Management Director at Transport for London describes how GIS and ITS are at the heart of London’s transport control operations. Slides presented in the mapping + GIS track at Move 2021 in London on 10 November.
Mark Cracknell, Zenzic’s Head of Connected & Automated Mobility, reveals the UK’s 10 year plan as a roadmap for connected and autonomous vehicles. Slides presented in the connectivity track at Move 2021 in London on 10 November.
Paul Scott, Healthcare Customer Manager at UPS sets out how UPS established a supply chain to 92 countries during the vaccine rollout. Slides presented in the city freight track at Move 2021 in London on 10 November.
Jonathan Bass, Head of Marketing & Communications, Wing, the drone delivery company operated by Google-parent Alphabet, presents new market research on the social acceptance of drone deliveries. Slides presented in the city freight track at Move 2021 in London on 10 November.
Daimler Group’s Head of Urban Mobility Daniel Deparis offers a collaborative approach to partnering with cities to make them more liveable. Slides presented in the business models track at Move 2021 in London on 10 November.
Lola Ortiz, Madrid City Council’s Director General of Mobility Planning and Infrastructure describes how Madrid is reducing emissions from trucking and freight. Slides presented in the truck tech track at Move 2021 in London on 9 November.
Jan Vapaavuori, former Mayor of Helsinki, outlines how digitalisation, AI and data from the basis for Helsinki’s sustainable urban transport. Slides presented in the smart cities and infrastructure track at Move 2021 in London on 9 November.