Using AI to check helmet use and rider impairment

These new in-app features from Bird and Voi are designed to boost rider safety.

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Bird

Taking a selfie will now earn you e-scooter ride discounts, thanks to an in-app feature from Bird that is now available in UK.

Called “Helmet Selfie”, the idea is to, well, take a selfie while wearing a helmet. Simples.

Riders who do this at the end of a journey in Bird’s trial area of Redditch submit the photo to the app. Artificial intelligence then verifies that the rider is indeed wearing a helmet and awards a 25p discount against a future ride. That’s not a bad incentive in Redditch, where Bird fees are £1 to unlock and 15p to ride.

The feature is also being used across the US, France and Germany to encourage Bird riders to don safety headwear.

Another imaginative feature being rolled out in the UK is Voi’s in-app rider impairment gauge. It takes the form of a game: helmet pop up on the app screen and the rider must try to tap as many as possible. The app will then deliver a score and recommend whether the rider ought to be riding or not based on an assessment of reaction times.

The feature will be automatically available in the app at times when drunk riding is more likely to be an issue. In the UK, it will pop up on Friday and Saturday nights, from 9.30pm in Northampton and Liverpool and 11.30pm in Bristol, to reflect pub closing times under Covid restrictions.

These quirky introductions might easily be discussed as gimmicks. But look closer. Both innovations show off the e-scooter industry at its best: striving towards a better world through imaginative technological evolution and by proactively encouraging better behaviour. Can that be said of manufacturers of cars, or even bikes?

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Bird