More on Micromobility

GoBike
requires rescue

Recently in Los Altos. Reminder that rental bikes require service and support – this one has a flat front tyre, damaged front handlebars, and a pair of spectacles poked into the cracked plastic. Emailing Ford GoBike to suggest they picked it up resulted in rather stilted customer service responses.

There’s lots of work still to do to get to the micromobility transformation in transport for suburbs. That transformation is a reasonable reaction to a poor infrastructure overburdened with vehicles much larger than they need to be for the movement of people and things they perform.

Reference – Horace Dediu https://micromobility.io/blog/2019/2/23/the-micromobility-definition

Mobility’s second great inflection point

Headline on a McKinsey article https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/automotive-and-assembly/our-insights/mobilitys-second-great-inflection-point

However, it entirely misses cycling, ebikes, and scooters. Perhaps the authors all live in snowy cold cities.

” .. the will to fix our cities is getting stronger. Urban populations, historically at the vanguard for change, are already more receptive to solutions such as ridesharing and carsharing, as well as EVs. ”

When the majority of trips are short, and as delivery robots gain adoption, the number of people willing and able to use a bicycle with electric power assist increases substantially. This has significant implications for the transportation business, and especially for automotive manufacturers.

Delivery of things

Another delivery robot company – this one operating at scale in Europe and making campus deliveries in the Valley. Starship raised $25m in June 2018. Runs on paths and sidewalks. No hints in the demo videos about how interacts with opposing direction bicycles and scooters.  Ideally something like this would be able to enter buildings and control lifts for campus deliveries. 

Commercial package delivery launch announcement (Oct 31 18) – in Milton Keynes now, and the SF Bay area before the end of the year. https://www.starship.xyz/press_releases/worlds-first-robot-package-delivery-launched-publicly-today/

Venturebeat review 

https://venturebeat.com/2018/10/31/starship-technologies-launches-commercial-package-delivery-service-using-autonomous-robots/ 

Transportation futures talk – 21 Sept 18

LondonLINXswitches

London Internet Exchange, LINX, London 1

I’m due to do a talk at the Institute of Directors in Charlotte Square, Edinburgh on the afternoon of Friday 21st September 2018, as part of the Scottish International Week. Sign up here

It will be a review of the current excitement in the Valley around #micromobility, and an exploration of parallels between data packet transport and people and thing transport.

Urban transport – Bird and Lime

limebikeJuly18

On Los Altos Avenue

Interesting to see the occasional Lime ebike in Los Altos – the nearest Lime bike location is posted as in Mountain View. No sighting yet of their Segway scooters.

For several years we tracked the increasing frequency of Teslas, and then an increasing variety of electric cars, on the streets in Los Altos. It seems like it’s almost time to do the same exercise, but for electrically assisted single person transport. Not all of them have two wheels, nor do they all have pedals. Segway sell a single wheel Ninebot. Lopfit walking bikes from Denmark have made it to Palo Alto.

These tie back into the Transportation as a System question – which company is best placed to gain scale by putting together solutions to the transportation requirements of people and things ? These personal scaled devices are part of the solution, and the travel pattern data they create have value, as indicated by the recent funding rounds. GV (was Google Ventures) led a $250m round for Lime in early June. Sequoia Capital led a $300m round for Bird (scooters) later the same month.

Updating, July 9th – the latest GV round also involves Uber, and has gone up to $335m.

Collecting background references

https://stratechery.com/2018/the-scooter-economy/ consumer surplus funded by VCs
Italian modular cars for China for services https://technode.com/2018/06/27/modular-kingdom/
Lime bikes –  https://www.limebike.com/locations
Street flow rates/capacity for cars v bikes/scooters https://www.cycling-embassy.org.uk/dictionary/capacity
Bird scooters funding explanation https://bothsidesofthetable.com/all-the-questions-you-wanted-answered-about-bird-scooters-and-their-recent-300-million-funding-62a8d557904d
Electric walking bike https://www.lopifit.nl/

Moving things

More on Transportation as a System, prompted by an article in Ars Technica.

Nuro

Autonomous vehicles for local delivery don’t need drivers; they can be smaller and lighter, slower, and at least as safe as US postal trucks.  The key to making this possible is to incent customers to collect their deliveries –  from the vehicle as it arrives, or from the nearest locker or pick-up point which can be reached by walking, perhaps with a small luggage trolley. In the US ‘rural’ post service puts letters in letter boxes which are on the street, not through your front door – but FedEx, UPS, and USPS leave packages on the doorstep.

Scheduling the delivery vehicle to arrive just when it’s convenient for the person collecting the packages to come down to the street from their multi-story building is the same kind of problem as arranging a Lyft pickup.

Solving this ‘last 50 feet’ issue of package delivery by getting the customer to fetch their packages for everything under certain sizes and weights will be much cheaper than trying to build robots to do the same job, and does not require an outside person or company to have access to the home (Amazon Key).

Amazon and Alibaba are likely to dominate global logistics; they have detailed knowledge about what their customers buy and can make supply chain predictions in order to get goods started on their journey prior to receiving specific orders. They are in a position to benefit hugely from building the overall integration of the systems for transporting goods.

Background

https://wp.cunningsystems.com/2018/03/17/transporting-people-like-ip-packets/

Nuro self driving goods vehicle https://nuro.ai/product 

Adding AMA reddit thread by  Dave Ferguson from Nuro https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/a81ce9/im_dave_ferguson_earlier_this_week_my_company/

https://arstechnica.com/cars/2018/05/self-driving-technology-is-going-to-change-a-lot-more-than-cars/

https://www.economist.com/briefing/2018/04/26/the-global-logistics-business-is-going-to-be-transformed-by-digitisation