Auto Tech

Fantasmo will use AR to track dockless scooters

Scooter companies are looking for ways to stop people leaving them in dangerous places, and Fantasmo may have the answer.

Dockless electric scooters are quickly becoming an incredibly popular way to get around cities. But problems with people riding them on sidewalks and abandoning them in dangerous or inconvenient areas have lead to several major cities such as San Francisco and Seattle banning them (temporarily, anyway).

In an effort to crack down on those who break the rules, and in turn appease city governments, companies are looking for ways to accurately track where the scooters are being ridden and parked. GPS has been used, but it lacks sufficient resolution to monitor the scooters accurately, so now companies such as Fantasmo are turning to augmented reality tech to make up the difference.

Until recently, Fantasmo had been focusing its AR efforts on the world of self-driving cars, but according to a report on Tuesday by TechCrunch, it has now pivoted to the problem of dockless scooters. Some of the burgeoning industry's leaders, including Lime, are reportedly already interested.

Fantasmo's system is surprisingly simple. It uses a camera placed on the scooter to capture footage of the scooter's trip, and that data is then compared to Fantasmo's maps. Together they're used to determine if the scooter is being ridden or parked improperly. This would open up the possibility of the scooter company imposing penalties on those riders who abuse the service.

What remains to be seen is whether increased accountability and enforcement of rules will lead cities who have already closed their doors to dockless scooters to reopen them, but it could go a long way towards preventing further bans.