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It will operate on Dublin City University campuses and aims to improve e-scooter safety and explore smart city use cases for computer vision-equipped micro-mobility vehicles.
Dublin is to host an artificial intelligence-based e-scooter research pilot project, which will run in parallel with moves to make scooters street legal across Ireland.
The six-month project aims to simultaneously improve e-scooter safety and explore the smart city use cases and possibilities associated with computer vision-equipped micro-mobility vehicles.
The scheme will operate on Dublin City University (DCU) campuses and between campuses once legislation allows. The trial will involve the collaboration of four organisations: Europe’s e-scooter operator Tier; Irish micro-mobility tech platform Luna; the Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics; and Smart DCU, a district of Smart Dublin.
It claims to be the world’s first academic-industry research project focused on computer vision in scooters and also marks Ireland’s first major structured e-scooter trial.
The project 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 new source of smart city data. Equipped with the Luna technology, the Tier scooters are 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.
DCU and Tier will also assess how e-scooters can replace other modes of transport across the university community of 18,000 students and almost 2,000 staff and help to lower the university’s transport-related emissions.
“We are genuinely curious to understand how e-scooters can help drive modal shift across our community of 18,000 students and almost 2,000 staff”
“This research is a great example of the calibre of ground-breaking innovations that are happening across DCU,” said Dr Declan Raftery, COO, Dublin City University. “Luna was founded in our Alpha Innovation Campus and we’re delighted to pilot the technology across our campuses.
“We are genuinely curious to understand how e-scooters can help drive modal shift across our community of 18,000 students and almost 2,000 staff, and we want to work with Dublin and Ireland stakeholders to disseminate all useful learnings from the pilot, as we prepare for a return to campus and a wider return to work in a post-Covid world.”
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. Potential 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.
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 claims to reveal that convenience stores could enjoy an average of €18,000 additional income as a result of Tier users entering to switch batteries.
“This research project will help shape the future regarding the safety and municipal value of electric scooters, not just in Dublin and Ireland, but globally”
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.
Luna began as a collaborative innovation project in the Intel-Movidius edge AI accelerator programme in DCU Alpha in 2019. It is now a standalone company, providing computer vision and Edge AI solutions to better manage deployment and operation of shared micro-mobility fleets.
“This research project will help shape the future regarding the safety and municipal value of electric scooters, not just in Dublin and Ireland, but globally,” said Andrew Fleury, co-founder and CEO. “The project will also enable the further development of Dublin as a ‘smart city’ and strengthen Luna’s position as a key technology provider in the governance and control of shared electric scooter schemes into the future.”
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