Uber forms new division to tackle autonomous scooters and bikes

January 22, 2019

Ride-sharing company Uber said at a robotics convention on Saturday that it is dabbling in the idea of autonomous scooters and bikes.

3D Robotics CEO Chris Anderson tweeted a photo from a presentation by Uber's JUMP group that indicates they are now hiring robotics engineers. The image also shows small icons of a bicycle and a scooter. Uber, however, has not commented on any plans for self-riding bikes and scooters, according to a Tech Crunch report on Sunday.

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The report and tweet claimed Uber's JUMP group has formed a new operation called Micromobility Robotics that will explore the autonomous means of transportation. Uber currently operates bike and scooter rentals like many other rivals. However, autonomous bikes and scooters could play into Uber's grand scheme in the years to come. JUMP is currently Uber's bike-share division.

The JUMP group unveiled its latest bikes that house self-diagnostic capability and swappable batteries. In the future, autonomous bikes and scooters could pilot themselves back to a location for a battery swap before redeployment. While those units make their way back for a new battery, Uber could deploy freshly charged vehicles for users to take advantage of without much manpower. 

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Uber wants to make its scooter and bike business a more prevalent transportation method for big cities. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said last August that it's inefficient for a car to move a single person during rush hour traffic, but bikes and scooters can help alleviate some of the congestion for short trips. Add in autonomous capability, and riders will need to put forth about as much effort as riding in the backseat of a car.

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