Uber is acting on plans to develop self-driving bicycles and scooters which can drive themselves around cities between charging ports.
Scooter and bike-sharing services like Uber’s Jump and competitors such as Lime and Bird have grown in popularity recently. They allow customers to pick up and drop of vehicles at designated points on street pavements.
Some of the businesses pay for contractors to collect, repair, and charge the scooters and bikes overnight. Consequently, high costs for the businesses can be reduced and profits can increase.
Uber announced on Saturday that they had hired engineers as part of their “micromobility robotics” team. The plan is for scooters and bikes to be able to drive themselves back to pick-up locations. This would eliminate the need for contractors to collect scooters and bikes overnight and the costs that come with this.
Uber is yet to publish any other information on the project, but they have said in an online hiring page that it plans to “improve safety, rider experience, and operational efficiency of our shared electric scooters and bicycles through the application of sensing and robotics technologies.”
This comes as part of a trend in Uber’s investment in electric scooters. They purchased Jump in April 2018 and then quickly added the scooter service to their main Uber app.
British competitor Bird is currently operating a trial service in Olympic Park in London and hopes to expand to other cities like Bristol, Oxford, and Cambridge soon.