When Romanian serial entrepreneur and filmmaker Mihnea de Vries kickstarted his new project Scooterson in 2015, he had only one objective in mind: to launch an eco-friendly scooter that could double as a ‘work-out’ machine. However, a chance meeting with Indian serial entrepreneur and Artificial Intelligence expert Deepansh Jain, and fellow Romanian tech veteran Flavius Balaj, at two separate technology events turned things around for him for the better.
“Vries started off Scooterson as a side project as he wanted to develop a really cool-looking electric scooter for himself,” Jain told e27. “When the first prototype was ready and he started testing it on the streets, he realised that there was a huge demand for this.”
This is when Jain’s knowledge and Balaj’s know-how came handy. The trio got together to work on the project aggressively. But they had the inkling that yet another eco-friendly scooter with no clear differentiation will be a hard-sell, and the plan may even experience a total break-down before the product hits the road.
“We asked ourselves whether an ordinary scooter would survive in a market which is increasingly dominated by self-driving and smart vehicles. This question has landed us in Rolley, our first product,” Jain said, as he narrated the story behind Scooterson.
Jain claims that Rolley is not just another intelligent smart scooter in town. It has many features that none of the existing motor vehicle firms have tested out yet. “We believe that the user experience is more important than just good specifications. We use AI to create an awesome user experience and maximise energy, efficiency and safety.”
Intuitive: Rolley is a gesture-controlled intuitive scooter. There’s no need for a gear shifter, nor an acceleration lever. You start as you start riding a regular kick-scooter, the gesture control system will detect your body as it moves: first kick is gear one, second kick shifts to gear two, and then simply sit for gear three.
Predictive: The Scooterson app will automatically turn on Rolley when the rider is within the activation range. The vehicles knows your daily habits and can then predict and suggest your most likely destination. Predictive routing is used by other smart features to increase energy efficiency and safety, based on riding patterns, rider profile and surrounding terrain.
Adaptive: The Scooterson app will adapt power and torque settings to perfectly match with remaining battery levels. In this way, you are able to ride at peak performance without draining the batteries before reaching your destination. The flip-side is that when the battery is low, the app will drop the settings to an energy conservation mode that will allow you to arrive at your destination before the battery dies.
Energy efficient: The more you ride Rolley, the more information the Scooterson app will gather and store in the cloud. After a while, by leveraging this data it will create a new optimised power-train profile, based on the riding patterns, your weight and surrounding terrain specifics. You can have multiple power-train profiles, optimised for better performance or for more range.
Connected: Scooterson connects to smartphones and smartwatches to display speed, battery status, ride statistics and other traffic-relevant data acquired from the cloud. The app continuously tracks the status of your scooter and connects to the cloud to receive rider’s optimised and personalised torque and power settings, as well as software updates.
Sharing: Using the app, your friends and colleagues can request access to use your Rolley. The cloud-based sharing management system will send you a notification to ask you to grant them access. The app will unlock your Rolley, pairing it with your friend’s smartphone, allowing to use all the predefined features accessible to a guest user. The system will notify your friend with the duration available to use the vehicle, and will remind them as this is coming to an end.
Multiple owners: The Scooterson app allows you, family, and friends to own and share one or more scooters. When a scooter is marked as available and a user is entering the predefined radius, the Scooterson app will notify him where to find the vehicle.
Keyless: You don’t need to worry about the safety of the scooter. Your smartphone or smartwatch acts as a key, when the device is located within the predefined auto lock-unlock range. The security mode will automatically activate when you leave a short distance from the scooter.
Chassis: The scooter is made from aerospace materials, magnesium alloys and composites and weighs only 20 Kg, which is much lesser than a normal scooter that could weigh as much as 100 Kg.
Cost effective: Scooterson can be charged by plugging in any standard power outlet. It takes about three hours to fully charge the battery. The battery can be swapped with a charged one. On full power setting, it will go about 30 miles (50 Km) with one charge. However, this may depend on rider’s weight, driving style and terrain specifics. On eco mode, it could go up to 45 miles (70 Km). All in all, the ride does not cost more than 19 cents per 100 Kms.
Exercise while riding: Since Scooterson does not have a throttle, the rider has to push with his feet until a 3.5 mph (5km/h) speed threshold. The motor assistance kicks in only over this speed. Also there is the “low power assistance” mode and the rider has to push with his feet from time to time, even beyond the speed threshold. So, there is a way to exercise a little.
Anti-theft system: Scooterson has a complex anti-theft system. The wheels are automatically blocked and the alarm goes off if moved from the parked position and you can track the vehicle using the in-built GPS feature on your mobile device if stolen.
Currently, Rolley is priced at US$1,990 for the first 1,000 units as a promotional offer and then will be sold for US$2,490. “We also offer a subscription-based ownership option. The US$99 per month subscription comes with theft insurance and unlimited maintenance,” Jain added.
Scooterson has been receiving enquiries from the US, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Belgium, and Italy for Rolley. “We have 1,250-plus units in pre-sales for Rolley. Once we close our funding round, we will focus on starting the production in October this year and launch at CES in January 2018. Our early customers will receive the first scooters in February 2018,” he said.
Whilst the company is headquartered in Silicon Valley, the team is scattered around the world — Romania, India, Singapore, and Norway. The R&D team is based in Singapore.
In 2016, Scooterson vas invited to join Enchant, a hardware accelerator programme backed by SPRING Singapore. “During the programme, we noticed the excellent pool of talents available in this city state. Singapore will also be the first town where we will test ride-sharing, “Jain went on.
Some of Scooterson’s competitors on the personal mobility vehicles premium market are Egret, URB-E, Segway, Boosted, Scrooser, and Vanmoof.
Asked if Scooterson will face tough competition from Tencent-backed Mobike and Ofo, Jain said: “We don’t see them as competitors. In fact, we see them as future partners and customers. We think our product is perfect for ride-sharing operations. Existing bike-sharing companies struggle with fleet management, asset ownership, theft and maintenance. We believe Scooterson can solve all these problems with a mobility-as-a-service proposition and as Mobike, Ofo and oBike, to contribute in Singapore’s car-lite mobility future.”
Vries (Founder and CEO) is a serial entrepreneur and filmmaker, with 20-plus years’ experience in tech, marketing and film. In 1996, Vries launched the first internet service provider in his hometown. Later, he started directing TV ads and music videos, pioneering aerial cinematography drones.
Jain (Co-founder and Vice President-Technology) is a serial entrepreneur, who co-founded and developedShifu App, an AI-powered context-aware personal assistant application for mobile phones. A few months after attracting investment from Google executives like Amit Singhal, Shifu was acquired by Paytm for US$8 million.
Balaj (Co-founder and Vice President – Manufacturing) has 20 years’ experience in corporate management and entrepreneurship. After succeeding in industrial construction and real estate investments in Romania, he is turning his focus into tech innovation, in the areas of electric transportation and leading the manufacturing at Scooterson.
Image Credit: Scooterson
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