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Electric Scooter Startup Voi Uses AI to Detect Pedestrians and Sidewalks

One of the big problems that automated vehicles are experiencing today is operating in urban environments. To make it a possibility, automated vehicles need the capacity to interact with other road users and consider their intentions. Such encounters are important between automobiles, pedestrians, and the most vulnerable road users.

Understanding pedestrian activity, however, is not automatic and depends on different variables, such as demographics of the pedestrians, traffic patterns, environmental conditions, and so on. Apparently, the answer to this question comes in the form of artificial intelligence.

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As such, the electric scooter company Voi is looking to become the first in the world to deploy computer vision and on-device AI for eScooters. It will use real-time knowledge of the environment instead of relying on guesswork. The technology incorporated into Voi’s fleet will allow them to sense their environment and respond accordingly to protect riders and pedestrians.

With this technology deployed, Voi claims to deliver real-time pedestrian tracking, close to that available in high-end vehicles. Based on high-end camera sensors and edge AI algorithms, the system ensures a sophisticated degree of pedestrian detection, enabling an eScooter to recognize whether it is in a highly pedestrianized area and to respond accordingly based on predefined parameters. It will also equip eScooters to detect the form of surface or lane they’re riding on and respond accordingly based on city safety parameters.

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“We are embracing this kind of pioneering technology so that we can help create cities for living, and to ensure that municipal authorities feel confident in including e-scooters as part of their smart city strategies,” said Fredrik Hjelm, co-founder, and CEO of Voi Technology. “We’ve covered more than 30 million rides to date and are acutely aware of the issues that surround eScooter safety. We believe in educating riders, but also in providing them with the kind of technology that supports them to use e-scooters responsibly. Luna’s solution answers some of the big challenges our sector has faced since day one, including pavement riding and street clutter.”

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Trials began as part of this week’s first global roll-out in Northampton, UK, concentrating on pedestrians’ identification. A collaboration with Irish AI startup Luna would test real-time pedestrian identification. This first step of data collection would see the local Voi operations team utilizing Luna’s technologies to allow scooters to learn their surroundings.

Upon finished, Luna’s technology will be incorporated into Voi’s eScooters for public usage in the region. Northampton’s eScooter trial is part of a UK-led campaign to bring eScooter to the public as a clean, carbon-neutral, and socially-distant means of transport.

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