Cities are constantly looking for new means of transportation that can solve the urban transportation problemssuch as the last mile problem. Numerous bike and scooter sharing systems
have been launched promising to solve the problems, yet only a handful of them are predicted to succeed. What is stopping them to sustain growth? Can the status quo be changed by proposing a
new vehicle design? These are the initial questions for the research in the thesis. The research shows that scooter and bike sharing are both used in combination with other modes of transportation and for everyday commuting, one of the most difficult tasks for city transportation planners. This presents great potential for bikes and scooters being able to relieve the pressure on urban transportation. However, the research reveals the causes why these systems have not been able to do so. Bikes are getting vandalised, privatized and disregarded which renders them litter. This means that municipalities have to carry the costs of getting bikes off the streets and has made them push out strict legislations for operators. It is important to understand that this problem will grow with the number of bikes on city streets. As a result, many operators have had to shut down, including BlueGoGo – the world’s third operator in fleet size at the time of closure. However, scooters are able to avoid vandalism and privatizing, the biggest problem for municipalities. Nevertheless, these vehicles are not designed for sharing and this imposes problems for scootersharing systems. For these systems the key part of the problem is the substantial cost coming from keeping up the service. The research also shows that the biggest cost driver for the scooter operators is battery swaps followed by maintenance and repairs. By developing a new scooter for sharing, while service and repairs aspects are considered, the operational costs can be reduced. Based on the thesis research a new concept for a sharing scooter is proposed. Vehicle servicing is enhanced by making the battery removal process as convenient as possible. Relocating the battery under the driver’s feet avoids lifting over high edges. Additionally, removing any lids that cause additional steps to remove the battery and reconfiguring the fixation to the vehicle make the swapping much quicker. To further reduce the need of repairs, easily switchable high impact plastics are integrated to the vehicle. This makes the scooter to withstand drops or even slides which can happen quite often with inexperienced users. The final aspect in reducing the operational costs is adding a sharing specific technology layer to the vehicle. This makes the vehicle connected to a server and fully monitorable and operable from a distance enabling to detect problems faster. For the users the technology layer allows for a simple keyless operation, reducing the complexity of starting and finishing the rent. Additionally, wheel sizes are changed to improve ride quality and increase storage space. Added storage space is necessary for a sharing vehicle since it needs to fit at least two helmets, documentation, a spare of hairnets in addition to the regular cargo that the user might bring with him or her. To conclude, a design proposal that can relieve the problems of stakeholders in sharing systems is presented, thus providing a potential solution for urban transportation. The key focus in the design is vehicle maintainability and robustness, simplicity for the users and operators and longevity of the service. This thesis does not present precise models, nor calculations for manufacturing of such a vehicle. In addition, software and hardware of the connectivity box are described in the related parts of the thesis, but the actual design of them is left for future development.
Author: Rainer Lepik