Self-Driving Tech Could be Answer to San Diego's Scooter Problem - NBC 7 San Diego

Self-Driving Tech Could be Answer to San Diego's Scooter Problem

While the new technology won't change the behavior of device riders, the company claims it can fix the second largest problem

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Self-Driving Scooters Could Come to San Diego

    NBC 7's Alexis Rivas explains how the technology works. (Published Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019)

    San Diego has an electric scooter parking problem, and a California company is showing off new technology that can help clean up the mess.

    Self-driving scooters. Yes, you heard right.

    The new technology can turn electric scooters – the same ones we frequently see sprawled across city sidewalks -- into self-automated bots that can come to you when hailed and even self-park.

    Mission Beach locals, fearful of dangers posed by scooters on the crowded boardwalk and neighborhood sidewalks, have been some of the loudest supporters of rideshare device regulations.

    “It's been a frustrating road, but we've come to accept that they are here to stay," Mission Beach Town Council member Greg Knight said.

    While Tortoise’s new technology won't change the behavior of device riders, the company claims it can fix the second largest problem -- what happens when users finish their ride.

    Scooters are supposed to be parked neatly, perhaps in designated corrals marked off by the city. But in reality, they're often left haphazardly in the middle of sidewalks and other places that threaten public safety.

    "We're addressing a lot of what's driving the backlash,” founder of Tortoise, Dmitry Shevelenko said.

    Shevelenko’s technology is merely an add-on to existing scooters, a lot like a set of training wheels, that he said would run about $100 per device.

    "We want to be in San Diego. We've seen a lot of clutter and obstruction there, and we want to work with City Council and the relevant authorities to make it happen," Shevelenko said.

    Knight admits he's curious, but needs a lot of answers before he's ready to see self-driving scooters in Mission Beach.

    "Every time we think we have a little bit of a grasp on something, everything changes,” Knight said.

    Three cities, including one in U.S., will start testing Tortoise’s self-driving scooters before the end of the year.

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