The Last Mile: How Advancements in Robotics are Driving Micro-Mobility Innovation

 

Tony Ho, VP of Global Business Development for Segway, provided his thoughts on how the pandemic’s affected the transportation industry and what exciting innovations Segway’s been working on to improve micro-mobility.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, everyone was worried product supply from China would be heavily impacted,” Ho said. “But it turned out the supplier scare wasn’t long, because everyone else shut down due to the pandemic, and the situation became a demand shock.”

If there is a silver lining to the COVID-19 crisis, Ho said it’s that the micro-mobility industry experienced a relatively quick comeback. Ho attributes a boom in some areas to people looking for different modes of transportation that don’t involve crowds, unlike traditional methods like buses or trains.

Shifting focus away from the pandemic and onto what’s new with Segway, Ho said advancements in robotics and AI over the past few years drive technology and innovation within the company.

“The computer power and machine learning in robotics are advancing, and the cost is getting cheaper and cheaper,” Ho said. “The need and demand for automation in micro-mobility also provides the impetus for the interest in AI technology.”

Ho believes the micro-mobility movement is still in its infancy, and technology is just starting to find its place in shaping the future’s transit products.

Can AI and robotics bring the operating costs of micro-mobility ride-sharing fleets down? Ho said the answer is yes.

“A lot of the autonomous driving technology that exists today can be borrowed and used for kick scooters,” he said.

One solution Segway found to solve some issues in kick scooters that made automation difficult was to add a third wheel that encourages better self-balancing.

“The three-wheel scooters self-balance and appear to be safer to ride due to their added stability,” Ho said.

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