Superpedestrian is a transportation robotics company developing core technologies for micromobility. The company has spent 8 years creating Vehicle Intelligence, their core technology, which makes micromobility sustainable, efficient, and safe at scale.
MOVE caught up with Haya Verwoord Douidri, an urbanist, mobility, & sustainability expert and thought leader in tech & innovation policies. She is currently EVP of Global market development, policy and strategy at Superpedestrian and came to speak about some of the influential factors driving micromobility and what we can expect from from the company in their third year of shared mobility operations.
We are delighted that Haya will be joining us at MOVE 2023! Find out more below about what you can expect to hear from her in June!
Q: For those who don’t know, tell us about Superpedestrian
Superpedestrian was spun out of MIT in 2013 with the mission to make cities more liveable through providing the safest and smartest light electric vehicle fleets. In 2020, Superpedestrian debuted the LINK Scooter, famous for its patented Vehicle Intelligence platform that makes our operations safer, more efficient and more sustainable. Named one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Transportation Companies of 2022, Superpedestrian has become a world-leader in transportation robotics and human-scale mobility, holding over 40 patents in autonomous failure protection for vehicles, automated maintenance software, fleet optimization, and vehicle context awareness.
Superpedestrian operates shared e-scooter services in Europe and the United States. We pride ourselves on being a responsible actor in cities; striving for compliance and delivery of an excellent service, alongside a willingness to have honest conversations about the impact of particular policies on scooter users and modal shift. We believe that in order for shared micromobility to be successful, private-public sector collaboration must be at its core.
Superpedestrian has recently been selected to join the Micro-Mobility for Europe coalition. What does this mean for the company and for the future of micromobility within cities?
Micromobility has enormous potential that is yet to be realized. The fact is shared micromobility will only be a solution to problems like car dependance, local air pollution, congestion and first-and-last mile connectivity if it’s rolled out at scale, and if the industry can deliver consistent service. To achieve this, we need to have a balance between meeting the transport needs of cities and the sustainability of the businesses that deliver this service. Shared micromobility companies will have to be able to turn a profit, and cities will have to adopt reasonable policies that encourage innovation and sustainable operations. We believe that MMfE is an important vehicle for the industry to align and support creation of an enabling environment where micromobility can deliver on its promise.
Q: What makes Superpedestrian unique compared to other providers?
Our scooter looks a lot different, because we designed it in-house. But, it’s what’s inside that really sets us apart from other providers. Each Superpedestrian scooter runs on our proprietary software, Vehicle Intelligence (VI). VI makes our vehicles safer for riders as well as for the public and our employees, by continuously monitoring internal systems, and autonomously resolving small issues before they escalate. For example, on a hot summer day the scooter will detect if it is getting too warm. Then, it will adjust so that it doesn’t overheat. If it can’t fix the issue itself, it will write a ticket to our operations team, who will see exactly what the issue is and how to fix it. This helps us run a safer and more efficient fleet.
Additionally, we were a second mover to shared micromobility, and we see this as a real advantage. Because we began serving cities after they began regulating shared micromobility, we were able to incorporate those rules into our operations and business model from the start. We were also able to launch with the best hardware and software in the industry, building on what we saw were the biggest needs and responding to the industry’s early challenges.
We’re also a little different because we serve cities of all sizes, from the very tiny Manhattan, KS to some of the largest cities in the world like Los Angeles.
Q: If you had to choose one, what was the single most influential factor driving development in Micromobility?
The growth of shared micromobility has largely been driven by the policies and regulations introduced by cities in this area. I see that there are two ways that cities can introduce policies for scooters, and this is going to affect whether shared micromobility can grow and thrive: (1) opportunity-led policies; and (2) reactive, problem-led policies.
In the first approach, we see cities that understand that scooters are essential transport, and design their policies around getting more people riding for essential trips, and creating an environment where operators can be profitable, and therefore be able to provide this service for the longer term. There is a great example of smart policy that encourages essential travel from Seattle in the United States. Seattle began a pilot program this winter that rewards people for riding and parking their scooters at public transport hubs. Riders who park in special parking zones get a wallet bonus from us as well as free public transport tickets from the transit agency.
The other approach we see cities taking is more reactive. Instead of seeing the larger picture, that scooters can help cities meet their sustainable transport goals and get people out of cars, they are more focused on preventing changes to the urban landscape. This is where regulations can become overly prescriptive in terms of fleet sizes, parking restrictions, and operating hours – and this approach can make it incredibly difficult for operators to run a sustainable business.
Cities look around for best practice in drafting regulations that they adopt. There is an opportunity right now to set the path for the future of a sustainable micro mobility industry that underpins public transport and delivers a valuable first and last mile service in our cities.
Q: What can we expect to see from Superpedestrian in the next 12-18 months?
Superpedestrian is now well-established in many of the cities where we serve, going into our third year of shared mobility operation. We’re very focused on the cities where we operate, and working with the cities to tailor our operations and programs to help cities and our riders get the most out of our services. We strive to take a bespoke approach, able to truly partner with cities to get them exactly what they need.
We are also continuing to expand into new cities. We’re bringing in that wisdom that we have as a second mover, and being very intentional about where we operate. We’re not looking for growth at all costs. Rather, we want to go to the cities that are set up for success where we can build long-lasting relationships over years to come. At the end of the day, what really matters to Superpedestrian is that we are helping cities become more liveable with micromobility as a key solution to that end.
We also are always improving our technology. We’ve made amazing strides in the last year at optimizing our fleet operations, and we’re interested in seeing what we can do to build on that progress.
Q: What can we expect to hear from you at MOVE 2023?
We know from what we saw in 2022 that the industry is at an inflection point. I’m going to talk about where we are right now, focusing on the evolution of city policies, and where we can expect the industry to evolve. A recent McKinsey & Company report estimated that shared micromobility could be a $260 billion industry by 2025, but we’re only going to get there if cities and operators can work more closely together to make an environment that achieves city goals while also helping businesses achieve profitability.