Back this summer, the UK's Department for Transport (DfT) was fast-tracking a permit to allow electric scooter rentals on the public road. Also, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced a £2bn fund for green transport including e-scooters, in order to combat overcrowded public transport amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Based on a recent survey conducted by Spin and YouGov, nearly 50 percent of people indicated that they are already using or planning to use a solo transportation option for commuting to and from work and for taking trips within their immediate vicinity.
This latest move rolling out good news for Silicon Valley scooter firms for example Lime, Spin, also European competitors such as Voi, Bolt, Tier that have established smartphone app.
Fredrik Hjelm, co-funder and CEO of the Stockholm-based e-scooter startup Voi mentioned: "As we emerge from lockdown, people will want to avoid overcrowded public transport but we need to make sure that there are good non-polluting options available that suit all abilities and pockets. Right now we have an opportunity to reinvent urban transport and to increase our use of electric vehicles, bikes, and e-scooters. The last thing anyone wants, as communities emerge from this crisis, is for people to restore to cars to get around."
Voi has reached its first-ever monthly profit at the group level in June, two years since it launched the e-scooter service which now operates across 40 cities and 11 counties.
Opportunities are also for shared e-motorbikes. Wow!, a Lombardy-based start-up, has obtained European approval for its two e-scooters – Model 4 (L1e – motorbike) and Model 6 (L3e – motorcycle). The products are now launching in Italy, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium.
It is estimated that 90,000 e-motorbikes in towns and cities across the country by the end of the year.
There are more companies eagerly eyeing the market and itching to try. Below is the market share of each shared e-scooters operators in the UK by the end of November:
Since the number of e-scooters is quickly growing around the world so does the need to provide safety systems for those using them. In 2019, TV presenter and YouTuber Emily Hartridge was involved in the UK's first fatal e-scooter crash when she collided with a lorry at a roundabout in Battersea, London.
Improving helmet usage is one of the ways to ensure riders' safety. Most operators have already upgraded their apps with educative content of helmet implement. Another technology is helmet detection. Before starting its ride, the user is taking a selfie, that is processed by an image recognition algorithm, to confirm if he/she is wearing a helmet or not. US operators Veo and Bird unveiled their solutions in September and November 2019 respectively. When riders confirm wearing a helmet, they can get free unlock or other rewards. But then this dallied over its implementation.
What did happen is that Autoliv completed the first crash test with a concept airbag or e-scooters.
"In the unfortunate event where a collision occurs between an e-scooter and a vehicle, the tested airbag solution will reduce the collision force to the head and other parts of the body. The ambition to develop an airbag for e-scooters underlines Autoliv´s strategy to expand beyond occupant safety for light vehicles to safety for mobility and society," says Cecilia Sunnevång, Autoliv Vice President of Research.
The tested concept airbag for e-scooters will complement the Pedestrian Protection Airbag, PPA, previously introduced by Autoliv. Whereas the airbag for e-scooters is mounted on the e-scooter, the PPA is mounted on a vehicle and deploys along the A-pillar/windshield area. This makes it the only airbag to deploy on the outside of a vehicle. Working together, the two airbags offer increased protection for drivers of e-scooters specifically in the case of a head-to-head collision with a vehicle. The following video shows the whole process of the test.
The initial development and subsequent first crash test of the airbag for e-scooters have been done. The continued work with the airbag will be conducted in close cooperation with Autoliv's partners.
As many people treating shared e-scooters as "a good last-mile option" for their commute and that rental schemes offered a way to "try before you buy". Privately-owned e-scooters are likely to be legalized in the future. Under this circumstance, safety precautions like an airbag for e-scooters will be put a higher priority by solo vehicle companies. Airbag helmet, airbag jacket for the motorcycle rider is no longer a piece of news. Airbag now is not made just for four-wheel vehicles, it will be widely applied to every size of vehicles.
Competitions will not only be in solo vehicles but also in the airbag industry. Many airbag manufacturers took this opportunity to upgrade their means of production by introducing laser cutting technologyto their factories. Laser cutting is widely recognized as the best processing method for airbag for it meets all the needs:
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