Peachtree Corners intros remote-controlled e-scooters – piloted from Mexico City
Peachtree Corners in Georgia in the US has launched a fleet of remote controlled electric scooters that can be delivered to customers and returned to parking spots by tele-operators – working from an office in Mexico City.
These twin challenges – to locate scooters for usage, and return them for safe parking, charging and cleaning – have “plagued the industry”, according to Peachtree Corners, which has drawn attention for opening a 5G testbed in the city with operator Sprint.
The testbed, Curiosity Lab, is dedicated to smart-city innovations, and is geared towards working with startups in the tech space, particularly around urban mobility. The new remote controlled e-scooters are the work of US micro-mobility firm Tortoise, founded by a former Uber executive in a bid to electrify the scooter and bike industries.
They solve these twin challenges of hailing and returning scooters, and also do away with the associated financial and environmental expense of repositioning of scooters using cars and vans.
In Peachtree Corners, e-scooters from scooter manufacturer Go X made have been made available in the city’s Technology Park Atlanta, a 500-acre existing technology park that is home to over 7,000 employees. The scooters can be hailed by the general public, via an app. They work in the vicinity of the city’s new 1.5-mile autonomous vehicle test track, which runs alongside regular traffic lanes in the park.
The e-scooters can be re-positioned by Tortoise’s remote tele-operators using routes approved by the city. The tele-operators are based almost 3,000 kilometres away, in Mexico City.
Tortoise uses a combination of sensors and software to enable this remote control and autonomous navigation. Each scooter requires $100 of equipment to be made remote-controllable, according to Tortoise, including robotic training wheels, a radar, twin phone cameras, a processor, and a motor.
An initial pilot will run for six months. It is the first time ever that tele-operated e-scooters have been deployed on public streets, it said.
City Manager Brian Johnson commented: “An important goal for us was to ensure that residents can enjoy the convenience of using e-scooters. As a reflection of our commitment to making cities smarter, we didn’t hesitate to partner with Tortoise to launch the first-ever fleet of self-driving e-scooters for public use. We are extremely pleased to be a partner in this innovative and world-changing technology.”
Mayor Mike Mason said: “It’s another opportunity for the city to look beyond traditional transportation and seek innovative ways to improve mobility. We invite our citizens and the business community to see and experience this new technology.”