Bird and Lime have launched a new tool to help alleviate the problem of inappropriately parked shared electric scooters, both powered by Google.
Dubbed the Bird Visual Parking System and Lime Visual Positioning Service (VPS x 2!), both Bird and Lime’s systems rely on Google’s ARCore Geospatial API to help the company “locate parked scooters and e-bikes in less than an hour metric accuracy,” Bird said at Google I/O, Google’s annual developer conference, on Wednesday.
The technology comes despite shared micro-mobility operators fiercely working to innovate how to alleviate the “problem” of inappropriate scooter parking. Some studies show less than 1% of scooters Bicycles are improperly parked.
Bird said I/O gained early access to Google’s new ARCore technology, announced as an API that enables developers to remotely create and deploy augmented reality experiences using precise location and orientation globally. Lime is also believed to have received early access, but TechCrunch was unable to confirm with Google in time.
Similar to Fantasmo’s camera positioning technology recently acquired by peer-shared micro-mobility operator Tier, VPS encourages riders to use their smartphones to quickly scan the surrounding area. The system then compares the rider’s images to Google’s vast database of Street View imagery, while leveraging Google’s 3D scanning and augmented reality technology to determine where the rider is and whether the scooter is parked correctly.
“Fixed objects such as buildings and signs are used as reference points, while more dynamic objects such as people and vehicles are ignored,” Bird said, noting that Bird is considering rewarding good parking with automatic ride discounts.
Bird VPS is already piloting a random sampling of riders in New York City, San Francisco and San Diego, with plans to expand to new cities in the coming weeks and months. Bird claims to operate in more than 400 partner cities worldwide, including those that have integrated local bike-sharing programs with the app. Google offers Street View in 87 countries.
Of the 200+ cities Lime serves, we currently operate VPS in 6 cities: London, Paris, Tel Aviv, Madrid, San Diego and Bordeaux. Like Bird, Lime’s pilot involves testing her skills with some riders. the company The pilot’s results are promising, and those who used the new tool reported a 26% reduction in parking errors compared to riders who did not use the tool.
The new technology comes months after Bird announced the launch of Sidewalk Ride Detection, which features features to detect and correct unsafe riding behavior and monitor improper parking. The system was originally piloting in San Diego and Milwaukee, but Bird said the company is expanding the technology into new markets like West Hollywood and Madrid.