First e-scooter trial with ecosystem approach in Ireland

Ireland has launched its first e-scooter trial across the five campuses of Dublin City University (DCU). It marks the country’s first major structured e-scooter trial.

The research pilot involves four organisations: Europe’s e-scooter operator Tier, Irish micromobility tech platform Luna, the Insight SFI Research Centre For Data Analytics and Smart DCU, a district of Smart Dublin.

The trial comes in parallel with moves to make e-scooters street-legal across Ireland. The project aims to set the bar for e-scooter safety standards in Ireland and worldwide with Tier and Luna equipping a fleet of 30 scooters with computer vision technology, allowing DCU-based Insight researchers to explore a new source of smart city data.

Luna’s technology will enable Tier e-scooters to run pedestrian detection and lane segmentation algorithms, allowing the vehicles to understand how many people are in their path, as well as preventing vehicles from being used on footpaths.

The purpose of the research project is to simultaneously improve e-scooter safety and explore the smart city possibilities associated with computer vision-equipped micromobility vehicles and the data they can generate on behalf of all stakeholders.

The vision data generated by the fleet will be analysed by DCU-based Insight researchers, with a view to identifying smart city use cases and applications of value to local authorities, in line with the mission of Smart Dublin. The first such use case will be the development of an AI model that can alert cities in real-time to blocked footpaths, whether the blockage is the result of a tipped over scooter, a badly parked car, a fallen tree, or other impediment.

Separately, Tier and DCU will monitor the modal shift pattern from cars to e-scooters across DCU users, with a focus on reducing the university’s transport-related emissions. Tier will also explore the impact of its Energy Network innovation in terms of driving footfall to local retail outlets as part of cities post-Covid economic recovery.

Its model allows users to swap depleted e-scooter batteries in return for free travel at charging stations hosted in local retail outlets. Pilot data from Tier’s Energy Network in Finland reveals the average convenience store enjoys an average of €18,000 additional income as a result of Tier users entering to switch batteries.

The pilot project, which will run until early 2022, will also explore other insights, particularly around user behaviours and attitudes, which can feed into any commercial shared e-scooter schemes that may be launched in Dublin and elsewhere across Ireland in the future.

Daire Keogh, president of Dublin City University, said: “They say it takes a village to raise a child and similarly it takes an ecosystem to launch a new innovation. This is an interesting and exciting time in transport. It is my job now and the job of government to play our part and progress the necessary legislation required for the safe use of e-scooters in Ireland”.

Speaking at the launch, minister Hildegarde Naughton said: “This is an interesting and exciting time in transport – the innovation and momentum is palpable. It is my job now and the job of government to play our part and progress the necessary legislation required for the safe use of e-scooters in Ireland. I look forward to seeing this pilot progress across campus and I am particularly interested in learning of its outcomes and insights which I am certain will inform us in further progressing legislation in this space.”


Source and photo: Smart Cities World