Within two weeks of raising a fresh $20 million to support the upcoming launch of its smart electric scooters, Superpedestrian is announcing that its vehicles will be integrated with Joyride software upon their highly anticipated arrival in January 2020. Our deep software integration with Superpedestrian’s vehicle and cloud software is a game changer for the micromobility industry as a whole, and Superpedestrian CEO Assaf Biderman is here to tell us why.
JR: What is Superpedestrian’s backstory? Has it been a long road to get here?
AB: Superpedestrian is a transportation robotics company located in Cambridge, Massachusetts and backed by investors including General Catalyst, Spark Capital and Hanaco Ventures. Superpedestrian was spun out of MIT in 2013 with the purpose of building autonomous maintenance and self-protection technologies into micro-vehicles. We spent four years developing our proprietary Vehicle Intelligence system, which was first introduced in our Copenhagen Wheel product – an award-winning electric bicycle system that ranks among the top selling e-bikes in the U.S. When it debuted in the Copenhagen Wheel, Vehicle Intelligence improved electronics reliability by 10x compared to existing e-bikes. After seeing how we could reduce service and maintenance costs by more than 75%, we saw a large opportunity to dramatically improve vehicle unit economics by introducing the Vehicle Intelligence platform to the shared vehicle market. In development since last May, our scooter features the same mature Vehicle Intelligence technologies, enabling best-in-market reliability and safety. Our scooter provides a 20% improvement in powertrain efficiency, boasts a 99.7% electronics reliability rate and has been tested to remain operational for more than 2,500+ shared rides (5-10x industry average).
What makes Superpedestrian’s vehicles unique?
Our Vehicle Intelligence platform is the industry’s only unified operating system for shared fleets. It’s a platform of embedded computers and cloud software that enables Superpedestrian scooters to autonomously protect from damage during and between rides. Within nanoseconds, the scooters can detect potential problems such as battery fires, short circuits, or failed brakes and take corrective action to avert damage. Such actions can include adjusting bus voltage, dissipating e-braking energy or recalibrating sensors to prevent failures. Vehicle Intelligence prevents more than 50% of issues that would cause other scooters to fail, and it streamlines operations if issues arise. If the scooter can’t protect itself, it automatically becomes unavailable for rental and generates a detailed service ticket for repair. As a result, Superpedestrian scooters are the safest and lowest cost-to-operate.
Also, as the leading embedded and cloud software company for micro-electric vehicles, our scooter is the first to feature an onboard operating system that controls all aspects of the scooter’s performance, including real-time decision making, data encryption, low-latency geofencing, predictive maintenance and service ticketing.
In which ways do you think Superpedestrian scooters will transform micromobility?
We believe Superpedestrian is poised to transform micromobility in three key areas: profitability, safety and regulatory compliance.
1. Profitability: By dramatically improving the mechanical vehicle and offering industry-first onboard detection and self-protection, Superpedestrian scooters boast a 2,500 ride lifetime and reduce operating costs by 50-70%. With these reductions in opex, Superpedestrian proves that micromobility can be profitable.
2. Safety: Active safety systems prevent problems that might otherwise endanger riders and vehicles. Here are some illustrations of safety challenges that have caused concern in the industry:
Other Issues Detected and/or Prevented: Electronic component failures on all five microprocessors, FETs, radio connectivity problems, sliced wires, motor failures, thermal overload, headlight and throttle failures, data fusion, sensor calibration errors and data integrity, and dozens more.
3. Regulatory Compliance: Cities and their residents are rightly concerned with scooters being used responsibly on streets and sidewalks. Cities designate certain public areas for low speed, no riding or no parking, but current scooters show significant lag in enforcing these rules. This results in riders speeding or parking in restricted areas. We store all city rules on-board to enforce speed and parking limits in under one second.
How will operators use the Joyride platform with Superpedestrian’s scooter?
Superpedestrian scooters will be integrated with Joyride’s software platform when we launch in several cities in January. Our collaboration serves to offer the industry’s best scooter to a wider range of operators, allowing any size of fleet-sharing company to operate profitably. This integration means that operators who purchase Superpedestrian’s scooters and use Joyride’s platform can be operational in short order, with all of our features accessible through Joyride’s offerings. And this is especially relevant to smaller operators who need to focus on unit economics from day one. Joyride is all about democratizing the micromobility space and making the market accessible to operators of all sizes, so our collaboration is a natural fit.
How do you think the micromobility landscape will evolve over the next few years?
Micromobility operators are being challenged to demonstrate positive unit economics. The total cost of ownership (TCO) for shared e-scooter fleets continues to exceed annual revenue. Short fleet vehicle lifetimes and high operating costs have forced the industry to increase prices and pull out of cities. For the industry to prove that mass micromobility is a sustainable solution for all cities, rather than being limited to dense urban areas, the TCO for shared vehicles needs to drop by 50-75%.
In 2020, we expect operators of all sizes to target profitability over growth at all costs. Upon demonstrating the fleet sharing business is safe and sustainable, cities will allow for more micro-vehicles on the street, at which point micromobility will become an integral urban transportation solution.