A lone electric scooter sits abandoned on a busy sidewalk. It’s an all too frequent sight in cities around the world and one of the primary reasons local governments have been resistant to partnering with companies like Spin to bring micromobility services to their communities. But with the help of Google and the company’s new ARCore Geospatial API, Bird believes it has a solution to the problem. With its new Visual Parking System technology, Bird claims it’s developed a way to locate parked scooters with pinpoint accuracy.
The next time you use a Bird scooter in a city where the company supports VPS, its app will prompt you to use your phone’s camera to scan the surrounding area. The software will then compare your images against a Google database that includes photos from Street View. When you need to park your scooter, an augmented reality interface will help you do so in the right spot. Bird says the technology will allow it to reward riders who show good parking behavior more easily.
“The end result is cleaner sidewalks, more organized parking and better functioning micromobility programs thanks to the world’s first scalable, hyper-accurate, virtual parking system,” the company says of VPS. Bird is currently testing the technology in New York City, San Francisco and San Diego. It will expand the availability of VPS to more cities in the coming weeks and months.
As you might imagine, Bird isn’t the only company trying to solve the problem of inconsiderate customers parking their rental scooters. Most of the companies in the space, including Ford-owned and Europe’s, have announced their own proposed solutions to the problems. But many of those rely on AI and remote piloting. Bird’s tool would appear to offer something different with an approach that rewards customers for being considerate of the public and other users.
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