Uber e-bikes could drive, park, and charge themselves

JUMP e-bike
Credit: JUMP
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It appears Uber is doubling down even harder on autonomous transport, with a new 'micromobility' department to bring self-driving technology to electric scooters and
electric bikes.

Uber has offered electric bike rentals though its app for several months now via the Jump bike-sharing service. The e-bikes have been rolled out across various American cities - Washington, Phoenix, Los Angeles, to name but a few - though only Berlin in Europe so far.

According to the below tweet from Chris Anderson, CEO of 3D Robotics, Uber announced the micromobility program at a robotics event over the weekend, and is currently hiring roles to work on Jump's robotics and sensor technologies.

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There are currently no listings for these roles on the Jump website (opens in new tab), but this could swiftly change.

An autonomous future

The ride-hailing app has made no secret of its plans for self-driving vehicles - cars that can navigate without human interference - though its autonomous car program suffered a major setback when it led to the death of a pedestrian in Arizona in early 2018.

Uber bought the bike-rental startup Jump around the same time, adding even more ways to hitch a ride through the Uber app.

The global rollout of bike rental services, however, has seen cities plagued by abandoned vehicles, as riders find it easier to ditch them by the kerbside - or in an actual ditch - than make sure they're taken to a designated parking or charging place.

Scooters would presumably pose less of a threat to passersby, and there's an argument for e-bikes that can navigate for themselves. 

Developing 'micromobility' so that these bikes and scooters can, say, park themselves without a rider, head to pick-up locations, and even ferry users from one place to the next autonomously, would be big business. But the botched rollout of these services we've seen so far - and Uber's safety record - doesn't give us much hope.

Via TechCrunch (opens in new tab)

Henry St Leger

Henry is a freelance technology journalist. Before going freelance, he spent more than three years at TechRadar reporting on TVs, projectors and smart speakers as the website's Home Cinema Editor – and has been interviewed live on both BBC World News and Channel News Asia, discussing the future of transport and 4K resolution televisions respectively. As a graduate of English Literature and persistent theatre enthusiast, he'll usually be found forcing Shakespeare puns into his technology articles, which he thinks is what the Bard would have wanted. Bylines also include Edge, T3, and Little White Lies.