E-scooter firm Spin launches 'micromobility ' research fund


Ford-owned e-scooter has launched a new £100,000 Micromobility Research Fund in the UK, which will support top researchers from ten universities in the UK and US and a number of mobility experts from organisations in the international mobility ecosystem. They will study various safety aspects of e-scooter use as well as rider travel behaviour and the challenges and opportunities of the integration of e-scooters within a city’s road systems and existing public transport networks.

Preparation for the first piece of research is under way in Milton Keynes - with potential to extend it to other cities, including London once the e-scooter trial kicks off in the capital. The study will explore factors that influence road-user safety seeking answers to questions such as where do e-scooter users ride most often (cycle lane, roadway, pavement) and how often do safety incidents occur.

The study will be informed by a diverse set of data sources including qualitative and quantitative consumer survey data and on-street AI and IoT sensor data of e-scooter interactions with pedestrians, cyclists and cars captured by Vivacity Lab’s sensors that are installed in the city. The researchers will have access to anonymised e-scooter movement data (GPS) as well.

Vivacity’s roadside sensors employ machine learning algorithms to detect near-miss incidents and are able to analyse movement patterns of vulnerable road-users such as cyclists and pedestrians, as well as non-connected vehicles. Such data will be invaluable to assess why near-misses may happen and what could be possibly done to minimise them. All data shared by the sensors is anonymised with video feeds discarded at source, enabling safer roads without intruding on privacy.

The research may include outputs such as a mapping of “safe routes” based on riding patterns and user feedback, and recommendations on how local authorities and operators could encourage riders towards a safer use of e-scooters. Recommendations may also include infrastructure improvements or other policy changes to enhance roadway safety for all users.

"Milton Keynes has been a leader in transport innovation for some time, and we are delighted that the first piece of independent research supported by the Micromobility Research Fund will be taking place here, with leading academics and cutting-edge industry partners," said Brian Matthews, Head of Transport Innovation, Milton Keynes Council.