Technology

Ninebot Scooter Goes To Charging Stations On Its Own

Beijing-based e-scooter manufacturer Segway-Ninebot has launched a semi-autonomous e-scooter model that can drive itself to charging stations. Marketed as KickScooter T60, has three wheels (two in front, one in back), and it will use artificial intelligence and remote cloud capabilities to guide itself without a human rider.
The new scooters will be priced at close to 10,000 yuan ($1,420), more than the company’s traditional scooters, which it sells to scooter companies for $100-$300. Company will start road testing next month and will be largely commercialized in the first quarter of 2020.
The self-driving technology can be a potential boon for the burgeoning scooter-sharing industry.
Gao Lufeng, Ninebot chairman and chief executive, expressed that it could lower operators’ costs of maintenance and improve the economics of scooter sharing.
“I believe scooters will replace bicycles as the prime solution for micro-mobility,” Gao said. “It’s human nature to save energy when commuting.”
Ninebot said Uber and Lyft, the ride-hailing giants that are expanding into scooter-sharing, would be among the customers for the new semi-autonomous vehicles that are expected to hit roads early next year.
Scooter-sharing services have been paying people to manually gather its electric vehicles at the end of the day so they could be recharged. A model that can drive itself to a charging dock can potentially fix that problem.
The scooter-sharing fad was triggered two years ago with the launch of Bird in California. Venture-capital investors have since poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the sector, and fleets of electric-powered scooters now operate in cities across the US and Europe.
Formed by the 2015 combination of China’s Ninebot and U.S. transportation pioneer Segway, the company has quietly become the largest supplier for scooter-sharing companies such as Bird and Lime. The company’s sales reportedly grew six-fold last year to 1.6 million units.
If there’s one thing almost every big city has in common, its heavy traffic. Some places have it better than others (either due to population density or smart city planning) but when you concentrate thousands of people in a relatively small area, a reasonable amount of congestion is virtually unavoidable. That’s where the growing “scooter sharing” industry comes in.
Such semi-autonomous, AI-driven scooters could help operators slash the maintenance costs of their vehicles and potentially make scooter-sharing more profitable.
The idea of dockless, electric scooters that can drive themselves to a charging station or a more optimal pickup spot certainly sounds useful on the surface. But it is likely to be cost-prohibitive for most scooter-sharing companies that are scrambling to bring in enough revenue to recoup the costs of their fleet operations. Uber is rumoured to be interested in developing self-riding bikes and scooters, but it hasn’t confirmed that publicly.

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  1. […] far as the current market is concerned, the electric scooter market is being dominated by the Chinese players. They have a cost advantage as the manufacturing […]

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