Autonomous Vehicles, New Mobility & the Built Environment

Swap and Go Mobility #CES2016

A low-cost electric motorcycle/scooter with interchangable batteries is already greatly reducing pollution in Tapei and will be coming to other communities soon. At $3,000, this mobility solution is relatively affordable, features a 60 mile range and is centered around tech features, such as the ability to remotely turn on and off with one’s smart phone. They have an “OPEN” network, whereby they install battery chargers at retailers, allowing the retailer to provide a service to its customer (top off one’s batteries or swap them out for charged ones – swapping takes less than a minute).

And the award for the dominant source of vehicular pollutants goes to; the humble and cute looking, two-stroke scooter. Sitting behind the noxious fumes of an idling two-stroke scooter “may therefore be highly deleterious to health,” according to a study published in Nature Communications. Horace Luke, founder and CEO of Gogoro, solves the tailpipe emission problem by substituting an electric drive train for the internal combustion engine.

Speaking at International CES 2016, he explains that Gogoro solves a fundamental problem of electric vehicles, which is the ability to instantly refuel. Instead of the rider having to wait and recharge batteries, Gogoro’s solution involves removing and replacing the batteries that are hidden in the seat of their electric scooter; a replacement that Luke says takes about 6 seconds. There is a home charging unit, that is relatively small, unobtrusive and even stylish enough to blend in with living room decor.

In sport mode, Gogoro indicates that its scooter will accelerate from 0-50 kilometers/hour in 4.2 seconds, compared to 5.03 seconds for a typical scooter with a 125 cc two-stroke engine. With a maximum speed of 95 km/hour, approximately 100 km range and a $3,000 price-point, the Gogoro scooter easily serves the needs of an urban commuter.

Given that their drivetrain is waterproof to IPX7 standards, Gogoro suggests that it is possible to drive through up to 30 centimeters of water. As Gogoro indicates on their website, all the components have been designed from scratch to optimize the performance and the experience for the rider.

An Energy Network #

What sets Gogoro apart is the creation of an energy network; really a web of distributed chargers around a given city. These kiosks are where a rider swaps a depleted battery for a fresh one. More than charging stations, these modules serve as an amenity for businesses, such as coffee shops, convenience stores and even gas stations, to attract customers.

Another unique aspect of their launch is that they are rolling out the scooters and associated energy network on a city-by-city basis. Taipei was their launch city, followed by Amsterdam and then Berlin. At the time of the above interview, over 4,000 scooters were roaming the streets of Taipei. According to an August 1st, 2016 blog post, Gogoro had reached almost 10k scooters deployed, 7,000+ daily battery swaps, 220 deployed battery stations and more than 20 million kilometers driven.

Analytics is central to Gogoro, as what they have created is essentially an IoT device on wheels. This interaction with the 80 sensors on the scooter allows them to continually optimize the experience for the individual rider. It also allows interaction with a wireless smart key, an app and, even an Apple Watch. The scooter has a smart locking feature to prevent it from being stolen and, if it were carried away, it also provides location information to the associated app. The app also lets a rider know the status of their batteries and where the nearest charging station is.

As the former Chief Innovation Officer of HTC, Luke hails from the consumer electronic industry and brings that sensibility to the electric scooter experience. As he indicates in the above interview, he was inspired to bring the innovation and creativity of consumer electronics to transportation. In that light, it will be interesting to see what creative extensions are added to the Gogoro product line at next month’s CES2017.

Author Ken Pyle, Managing Editor

By Ken Pyle, Managing Editor

Ken Pyle is Marketing Director for the Broadband Forum. The mission of this 25+-year-old non-profit “is to unlock the potential for new markets and profitable revenue growth by leveraging new technologies and standards in the home, intelligent small business, and multi-user infrastructure of the broadband network.”

He is also co-founder of Viodi, LLC and Managing Editor of the Viodi View, a publication focused on the rural broadband ecosystem, autonomous vehicles, and electric aviation. He has edited and produced numerous multimedia projects for NTCA, US Telecom and Viodi. Pyle is the producer of Viodi’s Local Content Workshop, the Video Production Crash Course at NAB, as well as ViodiTV. He has been intimately involved in Viodi’s consulting projects and has created processes for clients to use for their PPV and VOD operations, as well authored reports on the independent telco market.

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