Ford’s micromobility subsidiary Spin has announced an international partnership with the software company Tortoise. The companies plan to bring the Spin S-200, a remotely-operated e-scooter, to cities in North American and Europe in 2021.
Spin’s new Valet platform makes it possible to operate electric scooters remotely and automatically re-park scooters out of the pathway of pedestrians and other sidewalk or street traffic. Spin Valet uses Tortoise’s software with the front and rear-facing cameras on the S-200. Eventually, this technology could make it possible for a rider to hail an e-scooter several blocks to their desired pick-up location.
Tortoise, which is headquartered in Mountain View, California and was founded in 2019, powers low-speed remote repositioning for light electric vehicles like delivery bots, shared scooters, cleaning robots, and more.
Boise, Idaho is the chosen location for the first S-200 fleet. The city will receive up to 300 electric scooters sometime in Spring 2021. In addition to the remote technology, the e-scooters will have a more stable three-wheeled body, which can better withstand road conditions because of enhanced suspension. S-200 e-scooters will also have three independent braking systems, including regenerative rear brakes, front brakes, and rear drum brakes, as well as turn signals.
Once a rider finishes their ride, the remote operations team can reposition the scooter if the vehicle is blocking the sidewalk, crosswalk, or a handicapped space. The same repositionings can happen if the vehicle is parked at a destination where it’s unlikely to get another trip. The repositioned vehicles can only travel at a maximum of three mph.
As Spin rolls out these electric scooters, the company plans to offer in-app scooter hailing, which will allow customers to request an e-scooter in advance or real-time. Operations staff will remotely direct any S-200 to the needed location. Battery-depleted scooters will automatically go to the nearest Spin Hub for charging.
The S-200 was co-developed by Spin and Segway-Ninebot. It’s equipped with the latest computer vision, machine learning, and robotics technologies, featuring an advanced visual navigation system.
Tony Ho, Segway’s Vice President of Global Business Development, had this to say about the S-200 model: “Although this is a small step for Segway’s robotic technology to power Spin’s new generation of shared scooters, the S-200 for the first time, we believe this is a significant development that marks the beginning of robotic technology that may unlock the full potential of micromobility, in practice and operational use. We look forward to seeing the real impact of the technology that this pilot program will bring.”