Thursday, 17 May 2018
USA: Lime Introduces Modern Transport In Cities
For several months, Lime is a start-up company that aims to provide a viable solution to traffic congestion in urban cities.
The company supplied thousands of scooters in key cities allowing anyone who downloads an app to unlock and ride them across town for a small fee.
However, it seems that scooters are just the beginning as the company is reportedly developing transit pods to get people from various points to other destination points in the city.
The technology is still at an introductory stage.
Lime plans to build an enclosed, electric vehicle resembling a car or a golf cart that could hold one or two people, but will be autonomous.
According to Lime’s co-founder and chairman Brad Bao, the transit pods will course normal traffic with a top speed of 70kph.
Bao added that the two to three pods would fit in a single parking spot. Just like the scooters, users will access and unlock the pods through a sharing service available in the company’s app.
The autonomous transit pod is nothing new, especially in the United Arab Emirates, where initial tests of these pods were held.
The project has been developed by the Roads and Transport Authority in co-operation with Next Future Transportation.
The autonomous transit pods are designed to travel short and medium distances.
They run on dedicated lanes like bikes. They are augmented with a camera for security and electromechanical technologies to perform the coupling and detaching processes, which can be activated while in motion.
Each pod measures almost 3m in length and stands 2.8m high.
They weigh in at 1,500kg and they have the capacity to accommodate ten riders – six seated and four standing.
The autonomous pod is fitted with a battery that supports three hours of operation, and can be fully charged in six hours. Its average speed is 20kph.
If Lime will pursue the development of transit pods, they must pay attention to the parking of their products.
Not everyone is excited about the scooters littering the curbs. Honolulu collected the scooters scattered at city streets.
Cities are in need of transit pods for the time it takes to get from one place to another as fast as possible for as long as they are safe to use.
Most trips consist of a single person looking to travel three miles or less.
A good number of city people travel solo or in two’s.
Cars are no longer ideal but there is no product available to meet their needs.
Our goal is to be a leading multi-modal company, said Lime’s co-founder and chief executive Toby Sun.
Over the last several months a handful of startups have dropped hundreds or thousands of electric scooters on the sidewalks in cities like San Francisco, Austin, and San Diego.
Allowing anyone who downloads an app to unlock and ride them across town for a small fee. It’s a radical and controversial experiment in urban mobility. But scooters could be just the beginning.
The concept is in early stages and the design is still in flux. But Lime’s plan is to build an enclosed, electric vehicle that could hold one or two people, resembling a smart car or a deluxe golf cart.
The vehicle wouldn’t be a car, exactly; it’s not even clear whether it would have three or four wheels.
But it would drive in normal street traffic, and could hit a top speed of about 40 miles an hour, said Brad Bao, Lime’s co-founder and chairman.
Unlike Lime’s scooters, which tend to end up littering the sidewalks and exasperating the non-scooting public, unused pods would be parked in street parking spots.
Bao predicts two or three of them would fit into a single spot. Customers would access the pods through a sharing service available in the company’s app, seeing them as another transportation option alongside scooters and electric and pedal bicycles.
Cities need pods because traditional cars are overkill for the bulk of urban driving, Bao said.
Most trips consist of a single person looking to travel three miles or less. They don’t need to have a five seater or a seven-seater, plus all that gasoline consumption, he said.
But there is no such product out there to meet their needs. he said. Our goal is to be a leading multimodal company, said Toby Sun, co-founder and CEO.
Lime isn’t the first company with a utopian plan for tiny, car-like vehicles that run on electricity. In the early 2000s, Ford made a line of similar vehicles it called TH!NK.
It discontinued them, and a company that subsequently attempted to build them as an independent venture failed.
Used models still float around Craigslist for a few thousand dollars. Arcimoto, a small, publicly traded company based in Eugene, Oregon, has been working on two-seat, three-wheeled electric vehicles for a decade, and began delivering its first shipments to customers.
Electra Meccanica, a Canadian startup that makes three-wheelers that look like regular cars with the back half cut off, said recently it has begun delivering them to the United States.
For the last year, Lime has attempted to differentiate itself from other scooter and bike sharing companies like Bird, Spin, and Jump by offering a wider range of vehicles, and by playing a more active role in the manufacturing process.
It has operations in China that oversee the building of scooters and bicycles. Making pods would be a significantly larger design and manufacturing challenge.
The company is still in the testing phase and would need to find manufacturing partners. The timeline of the project and the number of pods Lime would try to produce is unclear.
One key design feature could be how many wheels the pods have, because that will impact the regulatory landscape.
The federal government has regulated low-speed motor vehicles since 1998, when it passed rules to allow people to drive their golf carts to run errands, so long as the vehicles met certain requirements.
The rules relate to four-wheeled vehicles weighing less than 3,000 pounds whose top speed is 20 to 25 miles per hour.
At the time, regulators were primarily concerned with retirement communities and other controlled environments — not downtown San Francisco. Three-wheeled vehicles are regulated as motorcycles.
Most states have also passed regulations for low-speed motor vehicles, generally limiting their use to roads with lower speed limits. Some cities also have their own regulations.
In Austin, for instance, low-speed vehicles can’t go faster than 25 miles per hour, must carry insurance, can’t carry more than six people, and have to be clearly marked.
The city code also includes a series of standards for low-power electric vehicles that serve as cabs. Some state laws would let cities ban low-speed motor vehicles altogether.
Bao said Lime would also pursue deals for the pods to be parked in on-street parking spots, akin to the car-sharing company Car2Go.
This would allow someone to pick up a pod, drive it across town, and leave it at her destination.
Programs to offer car-sharing companies city contracts for such arrangements are emerging; San Francisco approved its program last year, citing research that each shared car could result in 7 to 15 privately-owned vehicles being removed from the streets.
The city’s transportation department said it hadn’t received any requests for shared parking from companies utilizing such novel vehicles.
Sven Beiker, managing director of Silicon Valley Mobility, a transportation consultancy, predicts the economics will be tricky.
It seems you’re getting into a challenging business with car sharing, and a challenging business with low-volume manufacturing, he said.
As with many forms of alternative transport, a major difficulty is how they’d fit into a landscape dominated by traditional cars. People driving underpowered pods through streets filled with SUVs could feel uneasy.
The best chance for pods, said Beiker, would be more aggressive actions to ban full-sized cars from central cities.
We have to say, no, don’t bring your pickup truck downtown, he said.
LimeBike unveiled its new ebike and announced that it will add between 4,000 and 5,000 of the electric-assist bicycles to its fleet this year.
Called Lime-E, the service costs $1 to unlock and another $1 for every 10 minutes of riding.
Equipped with a rechargeable lithium battery and a 250-watt motor, the Lime-E electric-assist bikes have a top speed of 15 mph and a 62-mile maximum range.
The initial wave of Lime-E bikes will be launching this month in existing LimeBike markets, including Seattle, Miami, Scottsdale, Southern California, and the greater San Francisco Bay area.
The company will also be working hard with other cities and universities across the US to help deliver the service to as many communities as possible throughout 2018.
2018 is shaping up to be a landmark year for the global bikeshare movement, said CEO and co-founder Toby Sun.
Our electric-assist bike, Lime-E, will provide cities with a fast, efficient, equitable source of first-and-last mile transportation at absolutely no cost to taxpayers and minimal cost to riders.
Founded by Toby Sun and Brad Bao in January, 2017, the San Mateo-based company is backed by firms like Andreessen Horowitz, Coatue and GGV.
LimeBike has raised over $60 million in funding and is valued at $225 million after its most recent $50 million round.
Meanwhile,Taiwan Bicycle Association (TBA) has released draft figures of bicycle and e-bike exports from Taiwan during the first four months of 2018.
The figures show that although the quantity of traditional bicycles exported from the island are continuing to drop in quantity, the total value is increasing.
Additionally, e-bike exports are continuing to rise rapidly both in terms of volume and value.
According to the TBA's released draft figures, 740,518 complete bicycles without electric-assist were exported from Taiwan in the first four months of this year, this is a drop of over 11% from the 839,107 bikes exported during the same four months of 2017.
The USA, the Netherlands, the UK and Sweden were the destinations which received the greatest quantity of traditional bicycle exports from Taiwan.
The average value of these bikes once again jumped sharply rising by 29.35% to US$ 588.33 per unit in the first four months of 2018, up from US$ 454.82 during the same period in 2017.
Similarly, the total value of exports during this period rose by over 14% from US$381,644,094 in 2017 to US$ 435,670,435.
Exports of electric-assist bicycles are continuing to grab a greater share of Taiwan's production capacity.
The TBA's figures show that in the first four months of the year exports of e-bikes from Taiwan increased in terms of quantity, value and average value compare with the same period in 2017.
According to the draft figures, a total of 82,920 units were shipped from Taiwan up to April 30th this year, this represents an increase of 34.35% from the 61,720 units shipped in the same period of 2017.
The average value of those exports rose to US$ 1,373.77, and the total value of exported e-bikes during this period was US$ 113,912,879—a huge 55% increase from the US$ 73,249,604 shipped in the same period of last year.
The destinations which received the greatest number of Taiwan's exported e-bikes were Germany, the Netherlands and the USA.