Uber Reportedly Hiring Robotics Experts to Work on Bikes and Scooters
Will future two-wheeled rides park themselves?
Uber has restarted its self-driving car development program, but it may also be exploring a different avenue of automation. According to The Telegraph, the ride-hailing giant is trying to set up a "micromobility robotics" team to develop "sensing and robotics technologies" for bicycles and scooters.
Uber has not confirmed these hiring plans, let alone how it might apply robotics expertise to two-wheeled transportation. But The Telegraph claims Uber may be looking to develop bikes and scooters that could park themselves. That could solve a major problem with current sharing services.
Bike and scooter-sharing services have exploded in popularity in part because of the adoption of a so-called "dockless" model. That means users can pick up and drop off bikes and scooters wherever they want, instead of having to bring them back to specific locations. That's more convenient for riders, but it's also created a headache for cities in the form of bikes and scooters strewn about haphazardly.
Self-parking bikes and scooters could theoretically move themselves out of the way, possibly alleviating the problem. But it's all speculation for now. It is unclear whether the self-parking function could actually be made to work and, as stated above, Uber won't publicly discuss its plans.
Uber is very interested in bike and scooter-sharing, however. The company operates two-wheeled sharing services in multiple cities under its Jump division. Uber is competing with arch rival Lyft as well as startups Lime and Bird. These services are not only potential money makers (Lime and Bird are each estimated to be worth around $2 billion), but offer Uber a way to diversify. The company's core ride-hailing business is now facing more scrutiny from regulators, with concerns over traffic congestion and low driver wages.