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October 13, 2021 10:00 am GMT

Bird will test sensors that prevent riding on sidewalks

If you live in a city where rideshare scooters are available, chances are youve had someone zip by on one while you were walking on the sidewalk. Its an issue that local governments around the world have pushed mobility companies to address since day one. And after working on the problem since 2019, Bird thinks it has a solution.

Collaborating with a firm called U-blox, the company has developed a custom multi-sensor and GPS module it says is far more accurate than other solutions at detecting when someone drives a scooter onto a sidewalk. When you drive a Bird scooter thats equipped with the module onto a sidewalk, it will produce an audible sound and send a notification to your smartphone. The vehicle will also slowly and smoothly come to a stop.

Bird is testing the technology in Milwaukee and San Diego and plans to bring it to Madrid and other cities in the future.

For Bird, coming to this point has been a long journey. At one point, the company tried using AI-assisted cameras for sidewalk detection but found they presented two problems. One, they would have added a fragile component to a vehicle thats already frequently vandalized. Two, training the machine learning software that would power those cameras would have proven difficult due to the ways road infrastructure in different countries can look. According to Bird, the advantage of its latest solution is that its a solution it can implement at scale without worrying about the weather or vandalism.

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