Dublin to host e-scooter AI research pilot project
15 April 2021 | 0
An AI-powered e-scooter research pilot project is to launch in Dublin City University (DCU), in parallel with moves to make scooters street legal across Ireland.
Set to operate on DCU campuses and beyond once legislation allows, the shared scooter pilot scheme aims to set the bar for e-scooter safety standards in Ireland and worldwide. The trial will involve the collaboration of four organisations: Europe’s largest e-scooter operator Tier; Irish micromobility tech platform Luna; Insight, the SFI Research Centre For Data Analytics; and Smart DCU (a district of Smart Dublin).
As well as being a world first academic-industry research project focused on computer vision in scooters, the pilot will also be Ireland’s first major structured e-scooter trial. The purpose of the research project is to simultaneously improve e-scooter safety and to explore the Smart City possibilities associated with computer vision equipped micromobility vehicles.
The collaboration will start immediately on individual DCU campuses, while the computer vision equipped Tier scooters will also be able to operate between the various campuses (and potentially other private sites across Dublin) as soon as government legislation regulating electric scooter usage is signed into law.
As part of the project, Tier and Luna will provide a fleet of 30 computer vision-enabled scooters, allowing DCU-based Insight researchers to explore a rich new source of smart city data. Equipped with the Luna technology, the Tier scooters will be immediately capable of running pedestrian detection and lane segmentation algorithms, allowing the vehicles to understand how many people are in their path, as well as whether they are on the road, a cycle lane, or footpath.
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. It is envisaged that some of the use cases that could be prototyped during the pilot, include traffic congestion alerts, road condition monitoring, street infrastructure mapping, kerbside management applications, as well as heat mapping of footpath riding incidents as an indicator of problematic junctions or inadequate cycling infrastructure.
Separately Tier and DCU will monitor the modal shift pattern from cars to 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. Tier’s unique 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 the 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.
As part of the pilot project, the collaborative research team will also look at 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.
“This is such an important research pilot project for Tier in Ireland and we look forward to mobilising the DCU fleet of e-scooters,” said Fred Jones, general manager for Northern Europe, Tier. “This is an exciting opportunity for detailed research on smart city applications of scooters as well as modal shift, as we work with the University to reduce its carbon footprint and offer a more sustainable first and last mile public transport solution. We hope to apply all project learnings to future Tier operations in Ireland.”
Prof Noel O’Connor, CEO, Insight, said: “The confluence of e-mobility, smart cities, computer vision, AI and data analytics is a key area of interest to Insight researchers in DCU. The Smart DCU platform in partnership with Smart Dublin, has created the perfect test bed where industry and academia can combine to come up with the solutions that will help enhance the future of safe micromobility. This in turn will drive its adoption globally, supporting societies shared climate goals.”