- Two mobility companies are actively adding features to their bikes and scooters to improve rider safety, encourage responsible riding habits and boost device security.
- Scooter company Skip will unveil two new scooters, one with a rear-facing camera and removable battery, and the other with a retractable lock, according to TechCrunch. Uber-owned Jump bikes soon will also have removable batteries as well as QR codes, plus the u-bar lock will be swapped out for a cable lock, VentureBeat reports.
- Most of the features will be rolled out in 2019, although Skip currently is testing the scooter cameras in Washington, DC and San Francisco.
The new dockless device features will address some of the issues that have been plaguing mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) companies. For example, the removable batteries will make charging easier when a device's battery dies. Employees can simply swap out a dead battery for a charged one instead of having to move an entire bike or scooter to a charging port. This will save time and resources in an industry that relies heavily on such factors due to tight profit margins.
Jump was one of the few companies to have included locks on its bikes from the beginning, which Rzepecki told Smart Cities Dive last year results in "better user accountability and parking compliance." The new cable locks will be more convenient than the u-locks. Other MaaS companies have been adding locking devices in response to more cities requiring them to enter their market, such as the locking requirement for Chicago's dockless bike-share pilot this year.
Not all MaaS companies are willing to make the switch, however, as evidenced by ofo's leaving the Chicago area due to the locking requirement, and ultimately nearly all U.S. markets because of what it says are onerous regulations.
Skip could end up gaining favor from municipalities for adding locks to scooters. But the locks serve perhaps an even larger purpose: preventing scooter theft and vandalism, which have been rampant since scooters' introduction in the United States. Including locks would require would-be thieve or vandals to first pay to unlock the scooter, which in itself is a deterrent.
The cameras might be another way to fight crimes by rigging them to catch vandals in the act, but for now Skip appears intent on using them to ensure safe riding behavior, parking compliance and that users aren't riding on the sidewalk. The company is still trying to figure out exactly what it is going to do with the data the cameras collect.