What happens when you provide millions of random people with electric-powered scooters to do with as they please? You prompt bans and the near-collapse of the e-scooter industry.
In November 2018, Ford Smart Mobility acquired the e-scooter company Spin for $100 million. Now, with American citizens and officials growing fed up with e-scooters cluttering their streets, that investment is headed to the scrapyard. Like a teenager trying to volunteer their way out of a grounding, Ford is extending an olive branch. If this scheme works, it just may be the most brilliant corporate save in the history of modern business.
Spin hooks up with Tortoise and Segway to save the day
Automotive News recently reported that Ford has partnered with Segway and the tech company Tortoise to help keep e-scooters on the street responsibly. For those who may not know Tortoise, it specializes in designing software for remote delivery vehicles. Tortoise’s founders have worked with companies like Samsung, Microsoft, Lyft, and Uber. Now it has partnered with Ford and Segway to create an automated e-scooter parking system called Spin Valet.
Who could’ve predicted that allowing millions of people to ride electric-powered scooters willy-nilly all over the place wouldn’t end well? Either way, Ford has teamed up with two distinct industry leaders in an attempt to prevent a full-on e-scooter apocalypse.
The Spin S-200 has some serious tech
When you purchase a luxury EV like a Tesla, it would be reasonable to expect all sorts of high-end tech. Imagine hailing your vehicle to pick you up at a hotel entrance on a rainy day. Better yet, imagine parking your car via remote control. Well, keep on dreaming because only the Spin S-200 can do cool stuff like that for now.
Tortoise’s remote mobility software powers the scooter’s Spin Valet platform, allowing one to navigate it from thousands of miles away if needed
The S-200 has front- and rear-facing cameras so that operators can see what’s in front and behind the e-scooter. Another crucial feature is its reverse tri-wheel design. It solves the balancing problem posed by two-wheeled scooters with their flimsy kickstands. It’s also a necessary design for remote operation. The Spin S-200 sports turn signals on its handlebars and near the rear wheel. It also comes with three independent braking systems: a regenerative rear brake and rear and front drum brakes.
Tortoise co-founder and president Dmitry Shevelenko told TechCrunch: “It’s necessary because it solves the balancing issue without a kickstand, but it’s also appealing to riders who aren’t dudes in their 20s. It’s higher up, you feel sturdier, and it’s really hard to tip over and fall. And so, in terms of making sure people in their 40s and 50s and 60s feel comfortable getting on, I think this going to be very disruptive.”
Nevertheless, let’s not forget the Spin Valet platform’s most important function: removing abandoned scooters from sidewalks, crosswalks, accessible parking spaces, and anywhere else it’ll annoy or even injure people. On top of that, Ford is hoping with crossed fingers it’ll preserve its $100 million e-scooter investment.
The first S-200 fleet will do test runs in Boise, Idaho, this spring
If you know anything about Boise, Idaho, it might be potatoes. The city has the Lays’ potato chip brand, with its “Real Idaho Potato Chips” slogan, to thank for that reputation. Because spuds require plenty of room to grow, Idaho became a potato-farming hub. NPR Radio Idaho describes Idaho as mostly rural and sparsely populated.
Idahoans are also known to be some of the friendliest and well-mannered folks in the Pacific Northwest, responsible types less likely to leave Ford’s Spin S-200 e-scooters strewn about — and less likely to be fed up with e-scooters.
It sounds like a perfect place to test remote-controlled e-scooters without worrying too much about someone kicking them over for fun. According to a Ford press release, “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.”
If the Boise test run succeeds, Ford said it plans to try similar programs in larger U.S. and European cities.