The city of Peachtree Corners in Georgia has become the first in the US to offer an electric scooter service where the scooters drive themselves to wherever you are.
Instead of booking a scooter on a smartphone app then walking to where the last rider left it, these scooters are driven using autonomous technology, along with a helping hand from a remote operator.
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Using a live video feed from a camera on the scooter and an Xbox controller, the operator helps navigate it to your location, stepping in when the autonomous technology needs assistance.
Intended for use in business parks for now, where they can operate away from public streets, the scooters are driven by a company called Tortoise and the service is provided to users by a firm called Go X. They are the first remotely-operated scooters available commercially anywhere in the US, and cost $1 to unlock, plus $0.25 per minute of use.
The scooters are fitted with a pair of guide wheels to stop them from falling over while parked, and to maintain balance while driving themselves, or being driven remotely. There are also extra components to control the steering remotely, and a housing for the forward-facing camera and turn signals.
While scooters driving themselves may seem alien, the system offered by Tortoise is the logical next step for scooter hire firms, who currently drive around cities in trucks to collect scooters, recharge their batteries, then redistribute them.
The scooters could also help reduce sidewalk clutter, where walkways are blocked by masses of hire scooters all left in the same place; these could be remotely driven to somewhere more convenient.
Due to the current coronavirus pandemic, Go X demonstrates in a video published this week, embedded above, how the scooters are remotely driven to an area where they are disinfected between journeys, and checked for damage or a low battery.
Away from their remote control capabilities, the scooters work just like those offered widely by companies like Bird and Lime. From this week, 100 of the Go X scooters are available for public use through the Go X app.
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