london e-scooter trial

Rental e-scooters equipped to spot potholes

Image credit: tfl

Micro-mobility company Dott has fitted sensors to some of its rental e-scooters being trialled in London, in order to collect road surface data and identify the location of potholes.

E-scooters have much smaller wheels than cars and bicycles, meaning that they are more vulnerable to potholes and other forms of road damage. It is hoped that this initiative could record pothole positions and boost the safety of riders.

Dott fitted sensors to some of its rental e-scooters used in London, collecting road surface data during 1,800 rides covering more than 2,000 miles (3,200 km) over a 10-week trial. The sensors, which were provided by cycling tech company See.Sense, detect road roughness and changes in the behaviour of riders, such as extreme braking and swerving. Sudden movements by riders indicate that they are travelling on an uneven surface.

Dangerous areas identified during the trial have been shared with local authorities responsible for maintaining those roads.

“Quality infrastructure is key to helping users of micro-mobility feel safe whilst on the road,” said Dott co-founder Maxim Romain. “The results of this new trial, in partnership with See.Sense, reveal that Dott’s vehicles can do more than provide efficient, reliable and sustainable transport for its riders – they can also deliver valuable learnings to create smart cities which are safer and more pleasant for all residents.”

See.Sense co-founder Irene McAleese added: “Our technology has been created to provide safety-focused data on the adoption and maintenance of infrastructure. We’re excited to partner with Dott on this project to demonstrate a scalable solution that provides cities with powerful data driven insights that will help cities unlock the true potential of micro-mobility.”

According to figures from the Department for Transport, three e-scooter riders were killed and 729 injured during collisions in Britain during the year ending June. It is not known how many of these incidents can be attributed to poor road surfaces.

Dott is one of three private e-scooter operators (along with Lime and TIER) chosen to participate in a trial of the vehicles in London. The companies have been providing e-scooters to rent in a small number of London boroughs since June. Transport for London said the trial was part of a wider effort to enable people to use greener forms of transport.

While e-scooters are a common sight in London and other British cities, privately-owned e-scooters are not permitted on roads anywhere in the UK and the ongoing trial is the only legal way to ride them. Anyone using a privately owned e-scooter or other powered transporter on public roads is likely to be committing at least one of a number of offences, such as driving a motor vehicle with no insurance. Currently, fines of £300 can be levied in such cases, with six points added to the rider’s driving licence.

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