Here at Roadshow, we spend a lot of time thinking about the future, in particular, what the future will look like once the promise ofIt has come true. Many companies, large and small, have invested large sums of money in being the first to find out, the last of which is a small company called Go X. The company is launching its autonomous scooter test fleet in Peachtree Corners, Georgia, on Wednesday, where 100 of these scooters will be offered for public use (and eventual rebellion against their creators, we suspect).
The Go X autonomous scooter is mostly a pretty standard electric scooter, like one you’d get from Bird, Lime, Uber, or Lyft, only these scooters have a ton of extra things screwed in to allow them to ride without a human. To stay upright without resting on a supporting foot, the scooter springs two small training wheels without a motor.
One of the most notable additions to the standard scooter is the motor mounted at the bottom of the handlebar lift, which allows the front wheel to spin on its own. Below is a hastily printed 3D box that looks forward and sits just below the handlebar, and this appears to contain a camera and some turn signals, for safety. The camera’s power is then sent through software developed by Tortoise, Go X’s partner company, and magic happens, or is supposed to be anyway. Based on previous interviews with Tortoise representatives, the scooters will act autonomously, but they can also be remotely controlled by people who monitor their progress, should something go wrong.
In either case, when the rider ends up with a scooter, he will attempt to navigate back to a staffed cargo area where a Go X employee will check the scooter for damage and disinfect it.
The Go X co-founder sees this program not only as a way to make scooters easier for customers to find, but also as something much more historically significant.
“This is a very monumental moment in history,” Alexander Debelov, co-founder of Go X, said in a statement. “Like the first plane flight, this launch offers a glimpse into the future of what is possible: the day when autonomous scooters are not an illusion, but an absolute reality.”
While that sounds, let’s say, ambitious to say the least, it will be interesting to see how successful the trial is and whether it is allowed to extend beyond the boundaries of the Peachtree Corners Georgia Tech Park. Or, you know, if the scooters decide they’ve had enough, turn their handlers on and start pacing the streets in menacing-looking packages. Either or.