Like some sort of catchy techno-pop mash-up, self-driving scooters are now trending in the dance halls of micro-mobility. Uber has said that it's developing robotic versions of its dockless scooters and bikes currently operating in cities around the world. The manufacturer Segway has a three-wheeled trike that can be driven remotely. And a start-up called Shared is pursuing a self-driving prototype of a mopedlike electric conveyance.
Add another tune to the medley: A technology start-up called Tortoise launched today, focused on "low-speed autonomy" for shared scooters and e-bikes.
Tortoise isn't an e-scooter company. Rather, it builds technology that combines self-driving and remote-controlled features that can be integrated into any type of shared dockless vehicle. The pitch is that this will allow the rentable scooters and bikes that are currently scattered around cities to self-deploy where needed to more readily match supply to demand, simplifying retrieval, charging, and replacement. Moving the vehicles around without direct human intervention would ease a major logistical pain for companies, and cut down on street and sidewalk clutter for cities.
"The days of going on a wild-goose chase to find an electric scooter or bike are over," writes Tortoise's co-founder and CEO, Dmitry Shevelenko, in a blog post, "because they'll now come right to you."