Voi unveils the Voiager 4, an e-scooter truly built for cities for living, featuring noise and optional air-quality sensors

Jan 28, 2021

Start spreading the news! Today, Voi has announced the launch of its next-generation e-scooter, the Voiager 4 (V4), rolling out in our cities starting this spring. As cities seek to limit pollution and gridlock, we have designed the V4 to contribute to lowering traffic congestion and fuels, as well as helping cities to collect data for improvements. Equipped with smart sensors that measure noise and air quality as the scooter travels along streets, the V4 will open a new frontier against pollution and poor air quality in our partner cities.

Our latest e-scooter model is the culmination of years of R&D based on feedback from our cities and users, resulting in an e-scooter model that truly delivers on our mission to create more livable cities. It offers new safety features — including audible alarms and indicators — designed to increase the e-scooter’s visibility to vehicles and pedestrians, including vulnerable road users.

With a lifespan of 5+ years and a 35% increase in motor performance, the V4 is designed for frequent urban use and delivers Voi’s most stable, secure ride yet. Turn indicators offer 360° visibility and ensure riders are able to communicate their intended maneuvers safely. A reinforced fender, plus improved hydraulic suspension and large, higher-quality tyres, increase shock absorption and ease impact from cobblestones and potholes.

The scooter’s technology has been developed to deliver superior operational efficiency. The intelligent system on the e-scooter conducts automatic diagnostic checks that predict the need for maintenance or repairs, identifying 55 unique error conditions, which, if triggered, instantly make the scooter unavailable to hire and alert the operational team.

All-new IoT (Internet of Things) hardware, the connected control hub of the scooter that has been fully designed in house, enables a range of safety and operational innovations, including high-accuracy, sub-metre positioning. To improve location accuracy, the IoT compensates for lost or degraded GNSS satellite signals in three ways. In an industry first, the IoT uses dual-band GNSS (L1 and L5 bands); comparing and averaging the two signals minimises positioning errors, since each signal can be affected differently by urban features such as tall buildings or trees, or by atmospheric disruptions. It also accesses corrections from EGNOS, provided by the European space agency. When GNSS-only positioning is difficult or impossible, the IoT combines information from various sensors (gyro sensor, accelerometer, scooter speed) to calculate the scooter’s current position. The V4 also includes a dedicated slot for extra sensor devices, expanding the IoT’s future capabilities.

The V4 also delivers on Voi’s commitment to increase multimodal transportation and create more sustainable cities. With the tap of a smartphone, smartwatch, or transport card, a scooter can be unlocked via contactless NFC (Near Field Communication) technology.

Additional key V4 features include:

  • Widened, all-weather, solid (not air-filled) honeycomb 10” tyres and hydraulic front suspension provide unrivalled grip, brake effectiveness, and shock absorption on all road surfaces.

  • Antimicrobial handlebars facilitate safe shared use and prevent the spread of viruses (including COVID-19) by inactivating them on contact.

  • Onboard Bluetooth technology communicates with iBeacons at Voi parking racks to ensure scooters are parked with sub-centimeter accuracy.

We chatted with Shahin Ghazinouri, our VP of hardware engineering and the main brains behind the V4, about what makes this e-scooter so special.

Let’s talk about the V4’s smart sensors for noise and air quality. Why did Voi decide to offer these features? What will they measure and what are the benefits?

The air-quality sensor will measure different particles of different sizes in the air, including organic compounds or even humidity levels. We’re most interested in measuring particles — such as those from car exhaust — that are harmful to humans and cause persistent health problems, such as respiratory issues and heart disease. The noise sensor measures the level of sound around the scooters in decibels. We know that there is a high level of ambient noise in urban areas. This causes problems with low-intensity stress, which is linked to different medical conditions, including heart problems.

This ties into Voi’s vision of cities made for living and our mission to create better living spaces.

We believe that we can offer cities more than just a transportation method — we can actually help them improve their environments and the health of their citizens.

The data collected by the sensors will be processed through our IoT hardware. We’ll be able to see the location of the scooter, whether it has been travelling or static, and receive information on the noise and air particle levels to sub-metre accuracy. Over time, we will have data from all over an operational area, and we’ll be able to see trends and pinpoint areas with high and low noise/air quality. Could be as granular as street level — anywhere there is a scooter and a sensor value. We can then share this data with our partner cities and researchers, who can use it for projects or strategies that build better, healthier cities.

Which feature do you think will be the most impactful?

From the user perspective, definitely the turn indicators. They have a direct safety impact. In fact, based on our recent user survey, the ability to indicate when turning was the number-one feature that impacts a user’s perception of safety.

Normally, it can be very difficult to indicate to traffic when you are turning on a scooter. It’s harder to let go of the handlebars and signal with your hands than it is on a bike. Turn indicators offer a safe way for riders to show other road users what their intentions are, so they can avoid collisions and other accidents. We think it will have a strong impact on our safety message to riders and cities.

There are two sets of indicators, one on the handlebars and one at the bottom rear of the scooter. Users can turn on the indicators using a button located to the right side of the bell, within easy reach, so riders can still maintain a good grip on the handlebars. There are also two flashing indicators on the display area showing the user that they have the indicators turned on, similar to the display that you’d find in a car.

How would the NFC tap-to-unlock technology integrate into a city’s public transport system? Would Voi partner with a local transport operator so customers could use their transport cards, such as the Transport of London’s Oyster Card, to unlock and ride a scooter?

Yes. We want to tie this technology to a subscription model with a transport provider, so that a customer using their transport card to unlock a scooter could get free Voi rides. This will be especially helpful in solving the first- and last-mile transit challenge, and we hope that it will also encourage people to use public transport.

The V4 includes a dedicated slot in its hardware for extra sensor devices, expanding the IoT’s future capabilities. What could this be used for?

Our recent  integration with Luna, for example, could be implemented via that slot. It also opens the door for bespoke features that a city might request, or for new technologies that we want to pilot.

This also helps to give the V4 a longer lifespan and ensure that its capabilities keep pace with both cities’ and users’ current needs. Rather than producing a new e-scooter model every time we want to introduce a new feature, the flexible IoT gives us more flexibility to add and swap out features, depending on requests, regulations, or new requirements. This is truly a more sustainable development model.

What excites you most about the V4 and what does it represent for Voi?

I think it’s a major improvement, both in terms of the user experience and the value we bring to cities. For the users, it’s not only the new safety features, such as turn indicators, but the scooter’s better performance, which makes it easier to go uphill and across different terrain. It’s also an iterative model — we’ve built on what we know are the strengths of the V3X, our previous model, and also made improvements to areas to deliver our safest, most comfortable ride.

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