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E-Scooters The New Wave Beyond Electric Surfboards

Today, the scooter industry encompasses over 200 brands, but it is still shadowed by a bad reputation. Scooter-related injuries are so frequent among riders that several law firms offer websites targeting prospective e-scooter plaintiffs. Scooter operators are frequently banned from cities — in January, for instance, Miami kicked out five of the seven companies operating in the city; Manhattan has banned shared scooters. Paris deputy mayor David Belliard last year joined numerous other city leaders in scooter-hate when he proposed “getting rid of them completely.”

Despite all the attention they command, e-scooters are used for only about one one-thousandth of all trips made in the world’s cities, according to McKinsey & Co. The global consulting giant has predicted that by 2030, micromobility — think bikes, mopeds, e-bikes and scooters — will triple in popularity to sustain a $500 billion industry. Can the scooter grow up and meet that economic promise?

Superpedestrian scooters weigh in at 60 pounds apiece. Source: Superpedestrian

A Boston brand is earnestly trying to make it happen, by focusing on safety. Superpedestrian has put nine years of research into making what’s been called “the Volvo of scooters.” It recently raised $125 million in funding to enhance its technology. And by year’s end, in several U.S. and European cities, including San Diego, Rome and Madrid, thousands of Superpedestrian scooters will come equipped with a Pedestrian Defense AI system. This software can instantly stop the vehicle’s engine if the rider hops up onto a curb, starts slaloming wildly or travels up a one-way street. Additional gadgetry will alert headquarters if a rider parks more than 10 centimeters outside a designated area and will self-check 140 components to ascertain if, say, the battery is at risk of igniting or if the throttle is stuck. No other scooter integrates such a suite of safety features, according to Augustin Friedel, an independent industry analyst and mobility expert based in Germany.

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