Spin, the micromobility subsidiary of Ford Motor Company, today announced an exclusive international partnership with software company Tortoise to bring Spin S-200 remotely-operated e-scooters to cities in North America and Europe in 2021.
The company’s new Spin Valet platform makes it possible to remotely operate Spin’s fleet and automatically re-park scooters out of the pathway of pedestrians and other sidewalk or street traffic within seconds. Spin Valet combines Tortoise’s software with the front and rear-facing built-in cameras on the S-200. This technology will eventually make it possible for riders to hail e-scooters several blocks to the desired pick up location.
The first S-200 fleet will be piloted in Boise, Idaho this Spring. The city will receive up to 300 S-200 e-scooters. This is the first time the technology will be launched with a robust, more stable three-wheeled e-scooter, which can better withstand different road conditions due to its enhanced suspension. S-200 will offer a safer ride with three independent braking systems (regenerative rear brake, front, and rear drum brakes) and turn signals (on handlebars and near the rear wheel).
“There has been a lot of fanfare around the potential of remote-controlled e-scooters, but this partnership marks a turning point in tangible operational plans to bring them to city streets,” said Ben Bear, Chief Business Officer at Spin. “In addition to providing reliability to consumers and more order to city streets, this could significantly improve unit economics, reducing carbon emissions and the operational work required to maintain and reposition fleets.”
After a ride is terminated by the individual riding the e-scooter, the remote operations team may reposition the scooter (at a low-speed – max 3 miles-per-hour) if the vehicle is blocking the sidewalk, crosswalk, or a handicapped space. The same repositioning can take place if the vehicle is parked at a destination where it’s unlikely to get another trip.
Later this year, Spin will offer in-app “scooter hailing” that allows customers to request an e-scooter in advance or in real-time. Operations staff will remotely direct any S-200 to the desired location. Eventually, battery depleted scooters will also automatically go to the nearest Spin Hub for charging.
Over the next year, Spin will explore opportunities to bring S-200 to North American and European cities that are interested in remote-controlled operations and a more robust e-scooter model.
“We are thrilled to see our software come to life with Spin,” said Dmitry Shevelenko, co-founder and president at Tortoise. “Spin has worked tirelessly to build trust with cities around the world, and our hope is that this technology only further improves and optimizes the way cities and operators can provide transportation together.”
Co-developed by Spin and Segway-Ninebot, the S-200 is equipped with the latest computer vision, machine learning, and robotics technologies, featuring an advanced visual navigation system.
“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,” said Tony Ho, Segway’s vice president of global business development. “We believe this is a significant development that marks the beginning of robotic technology that may unlock the full potential of micromobility, in practical and operational use. We look forward to seeing the real impact of the technology that this pilot program will bring.”