Bird trials new technology to prevent use of micro-mobility vehicles on sidewalks and footpaths

Posted: 15 October 2021 | | No comments yet

Bird’s newly-developed ‘Smart Sidewalk Protection’ technology effectively and efficiently detects and prevents sidewalk or footpath riding in real time by safely bringing the offending vehicle to a safe stop.

Micro-mobility operator Bird has announced the introduction of first-of-its-kind ‘smart sidewalk’ protection technology, which is integrated into Bird’s vehicles and is designed to prevent micro-mobility vehicles from being used on sidewalks and footpaths.

As more and more cities look to integrate shared micro-mobility into the climate action plans that focus on reducing carbon emissions in their communities, technology that prevents sidewalk riding has become increasingly important. Through its collaboration with u-blox, Bird has co-developed the industry’s first robust, integrated sensor fusion system – known as ‘Smart Sidewalk Protection’ – that tracks location with centimetre-level precision.

By combining a high-precision dead reckoning module with centimetre-level sidewalk mapping and Bird’s suite of onboard vehicle sensors, the integrated system effectively and efficiently detects and prevents sidewalk or footpath riding in real time.

For example, as opposed to traditional GPS with cloud based maps that can take more than 15 seconds to respond, Bird’s new smart sidewalk protection solution can safely bring a vehicle that has entered onto a sidewalk to a safe stop while allowing the rider to walk the vehicle back to the roadway or bike lane.

“Everything we build at Bird is centered around safety and scalability, and sidewalk riding detection is no exception,” said Scott Rushforth, Chief Vehicle Officer at Bird. “After three years of building, testing and piloting a range of technologies – including but not limited to on-board cameras, GPS tracking, ultra-wideband and beacons – we found that each was insufficient with regard to accuracy, precision, immediacy or scalability. Our testing led us to a collaboration with u-blox which resulted in the development of our end-to-end sensor fusion solution that meets our criteria.”

Bird’s sidewalk detection technology is currently being piloted in Milwaukee and San Diego, and is expected to be piloted in Madrid in early 2022.