Superpedestrian, the transportation robotics company spun out of MIT, announced $20 million in financing to support the rollout of its ultra-safe scooter fleet, now in mass production. Featuring the company’s proprietary Vehicle Intelligence technology, the new scooters are able to detect and protect against more than 100 common malfunctions within nanoseconds. The result is a substantial improvement in vehicle safety for scooter riders and major cost savings for fleet operators. Investors include Spark Capital, General Catalyst, Hanaco Ventures and Empire Angels. The financing brings the company’s total investment to $64 million.
Safety and reliability are major concerns for riders and cities. To address these challenges, fleet operators must frequently repair, charge, and replace vehicles – the costs of which can be make-or-break for operators. Since its inception, the scooter-sharing industry has primarily focused on mechanical and connectivity improvements, which, although important, have provided insufficient gains. With cities now tightening their safety requirements and operators seeking to show a path to profitability, the need for dramatic improvements in vehicle and fleet technology is even more pressing.
“Scooter operators today don’t engineer the key electronic systems in their vehicles; instead they source off-the-shelf hardware, giving them almost no control over vehicle functionality. This prevents them from detecting and addressing issues of vehicle safety and reliability at the core,” said Emily Castor Warren, Superpedestrian advisor and former Lyft and Lime policy executive. “With safety as a paramount concern in the minds of riders and city leaders, operators must rise to the challenge by deploying safer, self-sustaining vehicles. Superpedestrian is the only company today that engineers all vehicle control systems from the ground up, creating a scooter that can protect riders if something goes wrong and deliver the product quality city leaders expect,” Warren added.
Superpedestrian has invested over five years in developing its Vehicle Intelligence platform – a unified system of embedded computers and proprietary software that controls everything on the vehicle, including the batteries, motor, data encryption, communication, as well as decision-making. With this platform, the new scooters instantly detect hundreds of events that can cause malfunction, triage each issue, and determine the appropriate response to prevent the issue from causing damage to the vehicle, and consequently the rider. Ultimately, the new scooters are designed to address the most common problems in the scooter-sharing industry. Examples include:
Battery Fires: Many vehicle failures are known to cause battery fires, including water penetration, cut internal wires, and battery cell temperature imbalances. Superpedestrian prevents these failures by detecting short circuits throughout the vehicle and electronically disconnecting the battery before damage is caused, and by continuously regulating the operation of every electronic component so it remains within safe temperature limits.
Braking Issues: Braking has been a continuous issue in the industry with vehicles braking too slowly or losing electronic braking unexpectedly when the battery is unable to handle the regenerative power, such as when going downhill. Superpedestrian’s scooters brake over 60% shorter distances compared to other scooters. Its vehicles also provide reliable electronic braking by constantly regulating the amount of braking energy put into the battery while dissipating the excess into heat.
Vehicle Availability/Reliability: Scooters on the streets today are often inoperable. For riders to rely on them as a daily transportation solution, scooters need to be consistently functional. With autonomous-protection capabilities, Superpedestrian’s scooter remains safely operational for over 2,500 shared rides – 10x the industry average. If a vehicle detects an issue it can’t resolve, it automatically makes itself unavailable for rental and creates a service ticket to inform the operator about how to bring it quickly back online. What’s more, Superpedestrian scooters only need a battery charge every 3-7 days, as opposed to current scooters that require daily charge.
Speed and Parking Management: Cities and their residents are rightly concerned with scooters being used responsibly on streets and sidewalks. Cities designate certain public areas for low speed, no riding, or no parking, but current scooters show significant lag in enforcing these rules. This results in riders speeding or parking in restricted areas. Superpedestrian’s scooters store all city rules on-board to enforce speed and parking limits in under 1 second.
“We see great need as the scooter industry evolves and operators seek fleet technologies that provide substantial improvements in safety and reliability,” said Assaf Biderman, Founder and CEO of Superpedestrian. “The autonomous capabilities of our scooters enable us to offer a fleet solution that sets a new safety standard. At the same time, our platform allows our operator partners to achieve new levels of operational efficiency and drive toward sustainable growth.”
Superpedestrian is a transportation robotics company located in Cambridge, Mass. Founded out of MIT, Superpedestrian develops technologies for micro-electric vehicles that optimize safety, reliability and performance. The company’s Vehicle Intelligence platform is the industry’s only unified control system for shared fleets. It provides the highest levels of safety and lowest fleet operating costs by enabling vehicles to autonomously detect and prevent issues that may cause malfunction. The company also designs and manufactures complete vehicles integrated with Vehicle Intelligence, including e-bikes, e-scooters, and more. Over the years, Superpedestrian has developed the industry’s most comprehensive IP portfolio with dozens of patents to protect its core technologies including self-diagnostics, self-protection and remote management of vehicles. Superpedestrian sells its products to fleet operators worldwide along with access to its comprehensive fleet maintenance software. For more information, see: https://superpedestrian.com or follow us on Twitter or Instagram.