Here at Roadshow, we spend a lot of time thinking about the future -- in particular, what the future will be like once the promise of autonomous transportation has been made a reality. Lots of companies, big and small, have been pouring vast sums of money into being the first to figure it out, the latest of which is a small company called Go X. The company is launching its self-driving scooter test fleet in Peachtree Corners, Georgia, on Wednesday, where 100 of these scooters will be offered for public use (and eventual rebellion against their creators, we suspect).
The Go X self-driving scooter is mostly a pretty standard electric scooter, like one you'd get from Bird, Lime, Uber or Lyft, only these scooters have a bunch of extra stuff bolted to them to allow them to motor around without a human. To keep itself upright without leaning on a kickstand, the scooter sprouts two little unpowered training wheels. From there, we can make a few more educated guesses based on the company's promotional video, above.
One of the most prominent additions to the standard scooter is the motor mounted on the bottom of the riser for the handlebars, which allows the front wheel to turn by itself. Next, there is a hastily 3D-printed box that faces forward and sits just under the handlebars, and this appears to contain a camera and some turn signals, for safety. The camera's feed is then sent through some software developed by Go X's partner company, Tortoise, and magic happens -- or it's supposed to, anyway. Based on previous interviews with Tortoise representatives, the scooters will act autonomously, but can also be remotely piloted by people monitoring their progress, should something go awry.
In any case, when the rider is done with a scooter, it will attempt to navigate itself back to a staffed charging area where a Go X employee will check the scooter for damage and disinfect it.
The co-founder of Go X sees this program not just as a way to make scooters easier to find for customers, but also as something much more historically significant.
"This is a very monumental moment in history," Alexander Debelov, co-founder of Go X, said in a statement. "Just like the first plane flight, this launch provides a glimpse into the future of what is possible: the day when self-driving scooters are not an illusion, but an absolute reality."
While that sounds, shall we say, ambitious to say the least, it will be interesting to see how successful the trial is and if it's allowed to spread beyond the bounds of Peachtree Corners' Georgia Technology Park. Or, you know, if the scooters decide they've had enough, turn on their handlers and start roaming the streets in menacing-looking packs. Either/or.