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Rented e-scooters get skid-detection to spot and ban careless riders

Bird electric scooter
(Image credit: Cendhika / Shutterstock)

Bird, one of the biggest names in electric scooters, is adding a new skid-detection feature to its hire scooters to help spot (and perhaps ultimately ban) people who ride carelessly, without consideration for others.

Bird says that scooters can skid for various reasons, all of which point to serious problems with the rider of the vehicle: hazardous behavior, excessive breaking, and worn-out tires.

The skid detection uses the scooter's existing vehicle diagnostics sensors, including an accelerometer that detects whether the scooter is upright or has been dumped on its side, and whether its components (including wheels and brakes) are all working as expected.

Each scooter sends this data back to Bird so the company can arrange any necessary maintenance work, but it can also be connected to a specific rider. Bird explains that if the scooter detects excessive skidding caused by carelessness, it can send a series of messages to the rider explaining why their behavior is dangerous – and even ban them from the service completely.

Safer scooting

As Engadget explains, Bird isn't alone in kitting its e-scooters out with smart safety measures. Companies including Lime use sensor data to ensure scooters aren't being ridden on sidewalks, and hire companies in the UK use geo-fencing to restrict scooters to specific areas.

Tier scooters have built-in 'topple sensors' to detect spills, Voi scooters can detect ambient noise levels so you can avoid dangerously loud routes that put your hearing at risk, and Spin is rolling out sensors to help with lane-keeping, much like that found in modern cars.

There's no substitute for careful riding, though. If you're taking a new electric scooter out for the first time (whether it's a rental, or one you own), it's always wise to find somewhere quiet like an empty parking lot to practice before heading out on the road.

Make sure you're familiar with starting, stopping, releasing the kickstand and (if applicable) folding and unfolding it. If you feel you're about to fall, jumping off is the best option; your safety of more important than that of the scooter.

Check out our complete guide to e-scooter safety for more advice on how to choose the right scooter for you, and stay safe when riding on two wheels.