Zipp Mobility teams up with Luna on ‘smart’ e-scooters

25 Jan 2021

Image: Zipp Mobility

The two Irish companies are partnering to roll out a ‘technologically advanced’ e-scooter fleet in the UK and Ireland.

Irish technology start-up Luna is partnering with shared e-scooter operator Zipp Mobility to roll out a fleet of ‘smart scooters’.

Using precise positioning and computer vision, Luna’s micromobility tech system lets operators know where e-scooters are and how they are being parked and ridden.

Dublin-based Zipp Mobility will roll out the Luna-enabled smart scooters on UK streets from April, and expects to launch the tech in Ireland once e-scooter legislation is passed.

“It’s fantastic for Luna, an Irish company, to be honing this technology in partnership with an Irish e-scooter operator,” said Andrew Fleury, co-founder and CEO of Luna.

“Shared scooter schemes will likely be coming to the streets of Dublin, Cork, Belfast and elsewhere on the island during 2021, so it’s important that local authorities leverage the learnings from other locations when implementing their own scooter schemes.”

A yellow and black device that says 'Luna' is attached to the handlebars of an e-scooter.

The Luna system attached to an e-scooter. Image: Luna

Fleury added that issues have been seen in other cities that have e-scooter sharing schemes in place, such as “pavement riding and street clutter caused by bad parking”.

In an attempt to overcome these challenges, Luna and Zipp will also be providing precise position and computer vision ‘smart city’ data to researchers at the Insight Centre for Data Analytics and the Smart Dublin team. This data can be mined for insights into rider behaviour and infrastructure requirements, Luna said, which can be used to inform micromobility policies.

The Road Traffic (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, which includes regulations to allow for e-scooters on Irish roads, is due before the Dáil shortly. Fingal County Council is already looking to establish how e-scooters and e-bikes could be used in its area.

Computer vision opportunities

Zipp Mobility was founded at University College Dublin in 2019. The start-up said earlier this month that it plans to create at least 30 additional jobs this year as it expands its micromobility fleet. It currently has around 450 e-scooters in locations in the UK, but it expects to increase this figure to 600 in the coming months, and it is also planning for an Irish launch once legislation is passed.

Charlie Gleeson, founder and CEO of Zipp Mobility, said the company is now partnering with Luna to make its fleet “the most technologically advanced one on the streets of the UK and, in the near future, Ireland”.

“We have seen first-hand the requirement for better GPS capabilities in the industry, in order to better control rogue parking and other operational aspects of our business,” he added.

“The computer vision technology … gives us the ability to monitor and control footpath riding in real time, and this is going to make a massive difference to the services we can offer to local authorities as we continue to reach our goal of ‘mobility done right’.”

Luna-enabled scooters will be fitted with centimetre-level positioning technology and AI cameras. This means operators can detect, to an accuracy of up to 2cm, if vehicles are parked in an appropriate location. Luna’s computer vision tech has also been designed to detect illegal riding on footpaths or other unauthorised areas, through a range of smart cameras and edge AI algorithms.

This information can be used to warn, slow down, fine or ban users who misuse the e-scooters.

Luna said that computer vision could provide more possibilities for shared scooter schemes in the future, including helmet detection, camera-assisted parking, pothole recognition, traffic monitoring, crowd analytics and more.

The mobility tech company emerged from the Intel Movidius Edge AI Incubator in 2019 as a joint project between Taoglas and Transpoco. It has already partnered with e-scooter companies such as US operator Blue Duck and Swedish player Voi.

Sarah Harford was sub-editor of Silicon Republic