Voi has launched a new helmet selfie feature which uses AI to check that the user is wearing a helmet when hiring and riding one of the firm’s e-scooters. Other new safety features being introduced by the microbility operator include a reaction test to discourage drunk riding and a ‘beginner’s mode’ which will cap the scooter’s top speed at 10mph.
The UK government is currently running trials of electric scooters in a number of areas. Voi is operating in six of these and has secured licences for a further 10.
The firm recently raised £120m as it seeks to establish itself as the biggest operator in the European e-scooter rental market and will be tripling its UK fleet by the end of the month.
Government guidance on the e-scooter trials states: “You should wear a cycle helmet when using an e-scooter. Helmets are recommended but are not a legal requirement.”
Voi’s helmet selfie feature employs AI that can instantly detect if a user is wearing a helmet with 95% accuracy.
After scanning a scooter to begin their ride, the user will be prompted to take a selfie, which unlocks the scooter. The user’s photo is validated and if the AI confirms they are wearing a helmet, they will get five loyalty points at the end of their ride. Loyalty points enable users to receive discounted rides.
A reaction test has also been introduced in a bid to discourage drunk riding. Riders will be asked to tap a random sequence of helmets as they appear on the screen.
The firm says the aim is to get users to think twice about hiring a scooter if their cognition is impaired. The test is set to appear at times of the day when people are most likely to ride under the influence.
The firm has also introduced beginner’s mode, which caps the e-scooter’s speed at 10mph (15 km/h) to help new users adjust to riding.
These innovations follow last month’s announcement that Voi would be trialling pedestrian detection technology. Dublin-based micro mobility company, Luna, has developed the software which allows scooters to detect when pedestrians are close by – or when the rider moves from road to pavement – and moderates the scooter’s speed accordingly.
Richard Corbett, Voi’s UK and Ireland general manager said: “Since we began to roll out our e-scooters in the UK back in September, safety has been of the utmost importance to us, especially as our communities adjust to this new mode of transport.
“That’s why we are constantly working on new technologies and complementary solutions, such as our recent collaboration with micro-mobility startup Luna to provide world-first computer vision for e-scooters, to make e-scooter use safer for everyone who shares the road.
“We recommend our users to wear helmets as they play a valuable role in rider and e-scooter safety, and the helmet selfie feature fits into our growing lineup of safety tools, including the Reaction Test and the Beginner's Mode, that serve to educate riders about making good when they take a ride.”