AI e-scooter research pilot project set to launch in DCU

A new AI-powered e-scooter research pilot project is to launch in Dublin City University (DCU), in parallel with moves to make scooters street legal across Ireland.

The shared scooter pilot scheme, which will operate on DCU campuses, and between campuses once legislation allows, aims to set the bar for e-scooter safety standards in Ireland and worldwide.

The trial will involve the collaboration of four organisations: e-scooter operator Tier, Irish micromobility tech platform Luna, the Insight SFI Research Centre For Data Analytics and Smart DCU (a district of Smart Dublin).

The collaboration will start immediately on individual DCU campuses, while the computer vision equipped Tier scooters will also be able to operate between the various campuses, and potentially other private sites across Dublin, as soon as Government legislation regulating electric scooter usage is signed into law.

As part of the project, Tier and Luna will provide a fleet of 30 computer vision-enabled scooters. Equipped with the Luna technology, the Tier scooters will be immediately capable of running pedestrian detection and lane segmentation algorithms, allowing the vehicles to understand how many people are in their path, as well as whether they are on the road, a cycle lane or footpath.

The vision data generated by the fleet will be analysed by DCU-based Insight researchers, with a view to identifying smart city use cases and applications of value to local authorities, in line with the mission of Smart Dublin. It is envisaged that some of the use cases that could be prototyped during the pilot, include traffic congestion alerts, road condition monitoring, street infrastructure mapping, kerbside management applications, as well as heat mapping of footpath riding incidents as an indicator of problematic junctions or inadequate cycling infrastructure.

Separately Tier and DCU will monitor the modal shift pattern from cars to scooters across DCU users, with a focus on reducing the University’s transport-related emissions. Tier will also explore the impact of its ‘Energy Network’ innovation in terms of driving footfall to local retail outlets as part of cities post-Covid economic recovery.

Tier’s model allows users to swap depleted e-scooter batteries – in return for free travel – at charging stations hosted in local retail outlets. Pilot data from the Energy Network in Finland reveals the average convenience store enjoys an average of €18,000 additional income as a result of Tier users entering to switch batteries.

As part of the pilot project, the collaborative research team will also look at other insights particularly around user behaviours and attitudes, which can feed into any commercial shared e-scooter schemes that may be launched in Dublin and elsewhere across Ireland in the future.

“This is such an important research pilot project for TIER in Ireland and we look forward to mobilising the DCU fleet of e-scooters,” said Fred Jones, Tier general manager for Northern Europe. “This is an exciting opportunity for detailed research on smart city applications of scooters as well as modal shift, as we work with the University to reduce its carbon footprint and offer a more sustainable first and last-mile public transport solution. We hope to apply all project learnings to future TIER operations in Ireland”.

Andrew Fleury, co-founder and CEO, Luna, added: “This research project will help shape the future regarding the safety and municipal value of electric scooters, not just in Dublin and Ireland, but globally. The project will also enable the further development of Dublin as a ‘smart city’ and strengthen Luna’s position as a key technology provider in the governance and control of shared electric scooter schemes into the future.”

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