Bird launches cutting edge technology that prevents e-scooters being used on sidewalks


Bird, an expert in environmentally friendly electric transportation, has announced a first-of-its-kind ‘smart sidewalk’ protection technology. The sensor fusion solution has been designed and developed in partnership with u-blox, a leader in wireless communication and positioning technology and services. Smart Sidewalk Protection, which is integrated into Bird’s vehicles, is designed to prevent micromobility devices from being used on sidewalks and footpaths.

As more and more cities look to integrate shared micromobility into their communities, technology that prevents sidewalk riding has become increasingly important. Through its collaboration with u-blox, Bird co-developed the industry’s first robust, integrated sensor fusion system that tracks location with centimeter-level precision. By combining u-blox’s ZED-F9R high precision dead reckoning module with highly accurate sidewalk mapping and Bird’s suite of onboard vehicle sensors, the integrated system effectively and efficiently detects and prevents sidewalk or footpath riding in real time. While traditional GPS with cloud-based maps can take more than 15 seconds to respond, Bird’s new smart sidewalk protection solution can immediately bring a vehicle that has entered onto a sidewalk to a safe stop and allow the rider to walk the vehicle back to the roadway or bike lane.

“Everything we build at Bird is centered around safety and scalability, and sidewalk riding detection is no exception,” says Scott Rushforth, chief vehicle officer at Bird. “After three years of building, testing and piloting a range of technologies including on-board cameras, GPS tracking, ultra-wideband and beacons, we found that each was insufficient with regard to accuracy, precision, immediacy or scalability. Our testing led us to a collaboration with u-blox which resulted in the development of our end-to-end sensor fusion solution that meets our criteria.”

“We are very excited about this collaboration between u-blox and Bird,” says Alex Ngi, product manager, positioning at u-blox. “Our precise GNSS positioning technology will now be implemented in the expanding micromobility industry, strengthening our contribution to a safer and more ecological world.”

Bird’s sidewalk detection technology is currently being piloted in Milwaukee and San Diego, USA, and is expected to be piloted in Madrid, Spain in early 2022.

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Lauren is a regular contributor to Traffic Technology International (TTi) and a freelance technical journalist. Over the past 15 years, she has worked on a wide variety of B2B publications and websites, including a stint as deputy editor of Traffic Technology International from 2014-2016. She has a degree in English from the University of Exeter. Lauren is mum to two busy little girls. She is always in demand!