Brian O’Driscoll expands e-scooter investment to edge AI start-up Luna

22 Mar 20211.98k Views

Brian O’Driscoll, Andrew Fleury and Ronan Furlong. Image: Luna

With seed funding from the former Irish rugby player and partners, Luna intends to add a layer of safety technology to e-scooters around the world.

Dublin start-up Luna has secured €400,000 in seed funding to help bring its computer vision technology to e-scooters across Europe and the US.

Based at DCU Alpha, the innovation campus co-located with Dublin City University, Luna started life as a project in the Intel-Movidius Edge AI accelerator in 2019.

Founded by DCU Alpha executive director Ronan Furlong along with Andrew Fleury and Phil Corrie, the company is tackling problems facing the roll-out of urban electric scooter schemes using edge AI, where data is stored and processed locally on the device (ie at the edge of the network).

‘Luna is offering the missing tech piece of the puzzle, which allows the operators and city authorities to better guide and govern rider behaviour’
– ANDREW FLEURY

Luna’s technology is specifically designed for light electric vehicles such as e-scooters.

Using a camera equipped with AI-driven sensing technology and GPS signal processing, Luna can be used to monitor where an e-scooter is being ridden, how many pedestrians are nearby, if it has been parked correctly, or if the rider is wearing a helmet.

This can help to address many of the safety concerns arising around shared e-scooter schemes. Scooters equipped with Luna’s sensing technology can also be programmed with parameters guiding the device response in certain scenarios. For example, if the scooter recognises that it’s in use in a heavily pedestrianised area, it can react according to controls set by the operator.

Last year, the Irish start-up was namechecked in a report on safe micromobility from the OECD’s International Transport Forum.

Luna’s seed funding comes from an investment consortium that includes former Irish rugby captain Brian O’Driscoll.

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O’Driscoll is also an investor in Dublin’s Zipp Mobility, an e-scooter provider that is now a client of Luna.

“It was clear from the moment that Luna came to us that this technology has a massively bright future as a key enabler of the continued growth and adoption of micromobility,” said O’Driscoll.

“We see huge potential for e-scooters to fulfil the needs of first and last-mile transport, in a way which also benefits the environment as well as communities. In my view, Luna provides the crucial safety layer for shared e-scooters and other shared micromobility vehicles such as e-mopeds, which will lead to mass market adoption.”

The funding will be used to accelerate the global roll-out of Luna’s technology across a range of cities, operators and vehicle types.

‘In my view, Luna provides the crucial safety layer for shared e-scooters and other shared micromobility vehicles’
– BRIAN O’DRISCOLL

Partnerships are already in place with Zipp as well as Swedish e-scooter operator Voi. Luna said it is in discussions to launch projects in Dublin, Rome, London and Brussels, and across the Atlantic in New York and Los Angeles, as regulation for micromobility is introduced.

In February, the Irish Government approved plans to draft legislation that will will see electric scooters and bikes legalised and regulated on Irish roads. Ahead of this expected legislative change, several micromobility players have already announced plans for the Irish market.

Irish companies Zipp, Bleeper and Zeus are prepared to launch once legislation is passed, while Dutch e-scooter company Dott and Estonian company Bolt are also hoping to make moves in Ireland. Taxi app Free Now aims to make micromobility vehicles available through its app in partnership with German e-scooter company Tier. And most recently, Bird announced plans to invest $150m to expand in more than 50 European locations, including Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway.

“To date, e-scooter operators have relied on incremental measures such as educating riders or rolling patrols to tackle poor rider behaviour,” said Luna CEO Fleury.

“While education and engagement must and should continue at the human level, Luna is now offering the missing tech piece of the puzzle, which allows the operators and city authorities to better guide and govern rider behaviour.”

Elaine Burke is the editor of Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com