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Scooters

E-scooter startup tests zero-emission, solar-powered rentals

German startup Floatility will try e-scooter rentals in Singapore next month with plans for trials in Vienna too.

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Floatility's CEO Oliver Risse gets onboard an e-floater.

Aloysius Low/CNET

For at least a few days, people will be zipping around on e-scooters in Singapore's One-North business district to get to places that are too far for walking and too near for driving.

German startup Floatility will launch rental trials for its solar-powered e-scooters for employees of partner Autodesk from July 24 to 28. The rental will cost just 10 Singapore cents (7 US cents) per minute. Besides in Singapore, Floatility has also launched a trial in Hamburg, Germany, and will soon launch in Vienna, Austria.

Unlike other e-scooters, Floatility's "e-floaters" are designed from the ground up with Autodesk software, donated via the Autodesk Sustainability and Foundation that provides supports to nonprofits and social- and environmental-focused entrepreneurs. 

With three tubeless wheels, these e-scooters are steered by leaning to the side instead of turning the handlebars. The 12kg (26.5 pounds) scooters are made of lightweight plastic. They feature a top speed of 25 kmh (about 15.5 mph) and a range of about 30 km (18.6 miles). Floatility expects people to use them for much short distances. 

E-scooters can be returned and docked to portable solar charging boxes that can be moved around as needed. Each scooter also has built-in telematics with GPS and can be "geofenced" to an area, ensuing that people return them. Unlike bike-sharing services that allow people to leave bicycles wherever they want, Floatility will send staff to locations with too high a density of its scooters and redistribute them to high-demand areas. 

The launch of Floatility e-scooters comes as Singapore begins experiments with so-called last-mile solutions. The small city-state is a decent testing ground, thanks to a connected network of cycling paths as well as a high penetration of mobile phones for locating and booking bicycles and e-scooters. 

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