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Drover AI is using computer vision to keep scooter riders off sidewalks – TechCrunch

Shared micromobility companies are adopting startlingly advanced new technology to fix the thing cities hate most – riding on the sidewalk. Other companies, such as Bird, Neuron and Superpedestrian, rely on hyperaccurate GPS systems to detect when a rider is riding inappropriately. Others, like Lime, are starting to integrate camera-based computer vision systems that rely on AI and machine learning to accurately determine where a rider is.

The latter camp leans heavily on the innovations of Drover AI, a Los Angeles-based startup that is testing and selling its embedded IoT module to the likes of Spin, Voi, Helbiz, Beam and Fenix ​​to help operators to improve the safety of the scooter and, generally. the important thing is to win a city permit.

Drover, founded in May 2020, closed a $5.4 million Series A on Wednesday. The startup will use the funds to continue building the next generation of PathPilot, Drover’s IoT module with a camera and a computational system that analyzes visual data and issues commands directly to scooter. Depending on the needs of the city, the scooters will make noise to alert a rider that they are driving on the sidewalk or slow them down. The new version, called PathPilot Lite, will do much of the same, except it will be more integrated, better and cheaper, said Drover’s co-founder and chief business officer Alex Nesic.

Drover has modules in more than 5,000 vehicles with orders for more than 15,000 more that the company should deliver by the end of the year, according to Nesic.

Getting the next-generation modules into production required hiring a few more minds across the engineering and project management side, as well as government relations and communications in Europe to help expand. said Drover at the pond.

Nesic said Drover is also looking to hire a software engineer to help create data dashboards the company offers to micromobility partners.

screenshot of the Drover AI data dashboard, showing a map color-coded by infrastructure type (ie: street, sidewalk, bike lane, etc.) as well as information such as date range /time and map view style.

Drover’s operator-facing beta dashboard that breaks down trips into used infrastructure. Image Credits: Drover AI

“We have a beta dashboard that shows a color-coded version of what trips look like broken down by infrastructure, how much time each vehicle spends in each section, and in aggregate across the entire fleet. ship,” Nesic told TechCrunch. “We have a parking validation dashboard where for any of your vehicles deployed in the city, you can see where the trip ends, what our AI has achieved in the parking job with a That’s why all these tools that we offer our operator customers that they can build themselves based on the data that we share with them, but they just don’t have the bandwidth, so these tools customer-facing is an added value.”

Drover is also selling its data to cities and exploring the use of distributed cameras operating in cities to create a suite of tools that could provide a dashboard that addresses city ​​showing information such as infrastructure conditions or bike lane violations, which is a “pet project” of Nesic.

“Our system can tell you, for example, the rider is in the bike lane 20% of the time, 30% of the time on the sidewalk and the rest on the road,” Nesic said. “That can inform a lot of policy decisions about where to put the bike lane or whether the bike lane you’re investing in is working.”

Drover has received interest from transport agencies such as Transport for London, as well as insurance companies who want this type of granular data to understand how new mobility modes are used in infrastructure.

There are some who say that the future of micromobility really lies in owned cars, rather than shared ones. If that’s the case, it makes sense that shared micromobility is setting the trends that future private scooters will have to live with. Advanced rider assistance systems are becoming stakes on the table for emerging operators looking to win over cities, and Nesic thinks the policy for private vehicles could soon follow — literally. , he hoped it would.

“Part of the money we’re raising is to explore other integrations that go beyond the supply chain of car manufacturers and IoT manufacturers,” Nesic said. “The real goal is to lower the cost, and if we can, our technology will be a set part of the next gen IoT with computing capability, and then we have already licensed Drover’s AI, which is equipped with management. diverse infrastructure around the world.”

But that’s down the line. For the short term, Drover is still focused on expanding on the back of shared scooter companies that have increasingly heard the need for this type of technology from cities.

Drover’s Series A was led by Vektor Partners, a VC firm focused on the future of mobility. The company recently raised a €125 million fund for sustainable mobility, which is where Drover’s recent raise comes from.

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