This ‘Sustainable Micro-Mobility’ opportunity provides funding to European teams who would like to develop a service related to Micro-Mobility. Funding will be provided by the European Space Agency (ESA) for 6-month projects called ‘Kick-Starts’, which can lead onto larger scale Demonstration Projects and Feasibility Studies. Kick-Starts are funded at 75% by ESA for a maximum of €60K per contract. Proposed services must use satellite data or space-based technologies. Please see the ‘Authorisation of Funding’ section below to check whether your team is eligible for funding.
A transformation is on-going in cities towards offering digital, clean, intelligent, autonomous, and intermodal mobility, with more walking and cycling spaces. Major changes to how people move around in cities are under way and the trend will accelerate further in the next decade, with electrification, autonomous driving, smart and connected infrastructure, and mobility that is integrated, resilient, shared, and sustainable, powered by disruptive business models.
With new urban planning concepts such as the ‘15-minute city’ promoting compact environments, ‘connected corridors’, and changes in the way that people work, electric bicycles and scooters are increasingly becoming one of the preferred options in urban community neighbourhoods.
With cities pressed to solve the transportation crisis due to increased congestion on the roads and the dangerous levels of pollution, several micro-mobility start-ups are emerging as a powerful alternative to traditional public transit, offering a huge opportunity to decarbonise transport, reduce congestion, improve air quality, and reduce car dependence.
TOPICS OF RELEVANCE
Below are some relevant topics that have been identified for this Kick-Start.
Micro-mobility planning and fleet management
A critical element to support the uptake of the micro-mobility is the provision of an efficient fleet management system requiring a detailed simulation of the urban settlement ecosystem and understanding of the micro-mobility patterns leveraging space data and artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning (ML) technologies to estimate future demand.
Leveraging mobility data with space and non-space data enables organisations to understand the needs, the movements, preferences and point of interest of the riders, and therefore allows to make informed data-driven decisions about where to deploy relevant services, such as how many vehicles could be deployed in a specific area, how many docking stations are required to best serve the needs of the citizens. Having access to a diverse and massive amount of real-time data can provide a deep insight into pedestrian traffic, points of interest (POIs), population density, proximity to cycle lanes and bus stations, as well as micro-mobility hotspots, therefore it increases the likelihood of commuters and visitors choosing bikes and e-bikes for travel, by delivering a just-in-time mobility solution. This also may contribute to the reduction of vehicle congestion, carbon emissions, and noise and air pollution, minimising navigation and parking times of multimodal users that drive to bike/e-bike stations, improving convenience and user satisfaction, while reducing the mobility services’ environmental footprint.
The deployment of the micro-mobility vehicles on scale requires proper coordination between several actors, such as transport planners, local/city authorities, and micro-mobility operators. To accelerate the deployment of public micro-mobility vehicles, the information on future demand needs to be made available to help local stakeholders understand where there is likely to be a growing demand for station points. To understand the demand requirements from a transport perspective, an advanced AI/ML system needs to be developed to assess the complex relationship between travel patterns, car ownership, demographics, temporal and seasonal effects, housing type, how many users are expected, how many vehicles might be driven, where they will be parked.
Micro-mobility urban cluttering
Cluttering is amongst the most cited challenge faced by micro-mobility operators, cities administrations and citizens. Beyond its visual impact, cluttering can pose safety hazards to drivers, riders, and pedestrians and in some cases has led to citywide bans. There are two aspects that can be analysed: the prediction of cluttering and solutions to prevent it.
One approach to predict cluttering is to gather and process real-time and historical riding data leveraging with space data and AI algorithms and assess the impact of future scenarios through what-if analysis. Dynamic pricing, powered by IoT, is one envisaged solution to prevent cluttering where micro-mobility providers are adjusting prices in real time, creating a means to discourage cluttering and maximise revenues at the same time. By introducing discounted prices in cluttered areas, operators can incentivise riders to relocate units before cluttering occurs.
Geofencing solutions may allow the micro-mobility operators to monitor their fleet and create specific rules based on e-vehicles locations, including no locking (cannot end or pause a ride) and no entry zones. The model needs first to be developed using images, then advanced mathematics and GNSS solutions could be used to pinpoint scooter locations, increasing the effectiveness of geofencing.
Another solution, called micro-mobility parking, typically takes the form of booths in which riders can dock their e-scooters or e-bikes following a journey. Some cities have tested designated parking stations as an effective means to ‘tidy’ their streets, though there have still been complaints that these take up space on the pavement. On the other side, cluttering is also generated by dockless shared micro-mobility, in particular e-scooters, which have become increasingly available in cities and on campuses. Dockless vehicles differ from docked vehicles by the absence of a designated physical docking station, allowing users to rent, retrieve and return vehicles using mobile devices. As such, dockless vehicles can be parked anywhere within a defined service area. An alternative to solve the cluttering challenge envisages the combination of autonomy and micro-mobility that could have the potential to lead to systems making the urban micro-mobility more sustainable.
Micro-mobility urban safety
The traffic safety of micro-mobility vehicles, such as e-scooters and e-bikes, whether owned or shared, is a key concern to be addressed to promote the uptake of micro-mobility solutions.
Growing efforts to increase the safety of the micro-mobility services are being focused on topics such as fleet operation, road pavement and infrastructure, regulatory enforcement, and training.
Equipped with a growing array of sensors, micro-mobility innovations include audible alarms, indicators to increase vehicle visibility and a rider mobile app. Safety impacts of e-scooters in cities should be carefully analysed, especially considering plans and permits for shared e-scooter fleets, and measures and solutions to be proposed. This includes where e-scooters interact with cyclists on cycling infrastructure, which can often be already crowded with cyclists. Cities and providers should partner to ensure safe riding of e-scooters and re-design streets to provide safe places to ride e-scooters. The benefits of adapting the infrastructure will be beneficial also for many other groups of users. For e-scooters and their services, it is recommended to focus on the first mile (such as suburban areas) and the last mile. For example, moving around main transport hubs can be considered as unsafe.
A way of incorporating safe micro-mobility vehicles into the cities will probably be through allowing micro-mobility to use the cycling infrastructure, increase and improve that infrastructure to cater for the increase in use, and introduce traffic calming measures. One effective measure a city can implement to improve safety of micro-mobility and encourage the use of micro-mobility vehicles could be creating protected cycle lanes that would make riders of micro-mobility vehicles feel safer and more welcome.
An opportunity to improve the safety of the micro-mobility vehicles is by introducing better communications between vehicles (Vehicle to Vehicle - V2V) and between vehicles and the infrastructure (Vehicle to Infrastructure - V2I). These communications solutions can play a significant role in detecting and communicating information about potential hazards to pedestrians and vulnerable road users, thereby mitigating the danger of imminent collisions.
VALUE OF SPACE
Proposed services must use one or more space assets. Some examples of space assets are provided below.
Satellite Telecommunications (SatCom) can be used to:
- collect data of micro-mobility vehicles whenever the terrestrial communications are absent or not reliable;
- provide the micro-mobility operators with a faster sharing of large data files containing information on the vehicles;
- connect the vehicles/riders for increased safety, either through V2I communication or integrated connectivity
Earth Observation (SatEO) can be used to:
- to collect information on geographical and environmental parameters;
- to monitor pollution levels and associated risks to relevant communities;
- to provide imagery enabling services such as mapping, risk detection, and situational awareness.
Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) can be used to:
- to enable georeferencing for high precision positioning, navigation and tracking of micro-mobility vehicles;
- to enable people flow-monitoring and location-based services to geo-localise points of interest in the maps and to enable geo-fencing and time-fencing features;
- to provide ubiquitous high accuracy position, navigation and timing (PNT) technologies to support accurate and seamless positioning provided by GNSS.
WHAT WE LOOK FOR
Kick-Start activities explore the business opportunity and the technical viability of new applications and services that exploit one or more space assets (e.g. Satellite Communications, Satellite Navigation, Earth Observation, Human Spaceflight Technology).
This call for Kick-Start activities is dedicated to the theme ‘Sustainable Micro-Mobility’, which means that the call is open to companies that intend to develop space-enabled applications and services relating to the micro-mobility.
HOW TO APPLY
- Register by completing the online questionnaire on esa-star (this provides for the minimum ‘light registration’)
- Visit esa-star publications and search for this opportunity to download the official tender documentation. Official documents will include proposal templates, a draft contract, and additional information about this opportunity.
- Use the official documents to write your proposal and obtain a ‘Letter of Support’ from your National Delegation (if needed - see Authorisation of Funding section below).
- Submit your proposal via esa-star Tendering by the deadline.
AUTHORISATION OF FUNDING
ESA Space Solutions can provide funding to perform Kick-Start activities to any company (economic operator) residing in the following Member States: Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Contact details of each national delegate can be found here.
Kick-Start activities are funded at 75% by the European Space Agency for a maximum of €60K per contract.
Join our webinar on 8 February at 11:00 CET.
- Roberta Mugellesi Dow, Business Applications Manager at European Space Agency (ESA)
- Mark McGranaghan, Fellow at Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)