After the City of Santa Monica, California launched a pilot program to deploy dockless digital scooters throughout the city, their usage on the sidewalks became an issue. When signage and other education efforts failed to curtail this riding behavior, they reached out to California Polytechnic State University’s Digital Transformation Hub (DxHub) to see if a technological solution could instead be implemented.
What the team came up with, including student employee Casey Johnson, is a way to throttle these scooters with a relay when riding on the sidewalk rather than smoother – and less pedestrian-dense – sidewalk surfaces. Their first effort involved using a GPS system, but when its real-world accuracy proved to be insufficient (off by 10-15 feet) another approach had to be explored.
Johnson then experimented with a smartphone’s built-in IMU, augmented with GPS data, which was analyzed with Amason’s Kinesis and Lambda systems. What he found was that the riding surface could be classified by the repetitive gaps that occur in the sidewalk. and be evaluated for throttling on this basis.
In just two weeks he was able to create an on-scooter prototype of the setup, leveraging an IMU and Arduino Nano to identify sidewalk-like surfaces. It’s an impressive feat, especially given the short timeline, and something that could potentially be quite beneficial if put into service!