Leading micromobility firm Voi will stage the UK’s first trial scheme for wireless e-scooter charging at the University of Warwick, and believes the technology could reduce the cost of running rental fleets.
At present, the operators of rental e-scooter fleets have to send in-field staff out to collect the swappable batteries from machines, which are then charged at a warehouse before being redistributed. Batteries are also swapped when machines are taken in for regular maintenance.
E-scooters in the new trial will be retrofitted with technology that allows them to be charged wirelessly by being places on special Bumblebee Power pads placed around the University of Warwick campus, where Voi currently runs a rental e-scooter fleet.
The wireless machines will only be available to estate staff, and will be used to help them travel around the large campus. The trial will be used to assess both the performance of the wireless chargers and user behaviour and interaction with the technology. It is also hoped that the ability to greater control the charging of each battery could extend their life.
Voi says that if the trial is a success, wireless charging could be expanded to cover more of its UK fleet, which is says could potentially reduce operating costs by reducing the time and resources required to swap batteries. Voi suggested that could, in turn, reduce costs for consumers.
The firm also suggested that the trial could also lead to e-scooters being more integrated into on-street and transport infrastructure in the future.
Sam Poole, Voi’s senior policy manager for the UK, said the technology “has the potential to not only reduce the operational impact of how we charge batteries for our vehicles but also in making an already convenient and flexible service even more accessible for new and existing riders.”
David Evans, the lead engineer at WMG, University of Warwick, added: “The University of Warwick campus is an ideal location to trial transport innovations such as these, providing a real world, mini city environment with world-class teaching and research facilities.”
Voi and Bumblebee aren't the only firms looking at wireless charging for e-scooters: a firm called Meredot revealed a charging pad late last year.