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Ex-Uber exec launches startup to autonomously reposition electric scooters and bikes

Just how Android is the operating system for a number of mobile phones, Tortoise wants to be the operating system for micromobility vehicles, its co-founder Dmitry Shevelenko, who previously served as Uber’s director of business development, told TechCrunch.

Given the volume of micromobility operators in the space today, Tortoise aims to make it easier for these companies to more strategically deploy their respective vehicles and reposition them when needed.

Using autonomous technology in tandem with remote human intervention, Tortoise’s software enables operators to remotely relocate their scooters and bikes to places where riders need them, or, where operators need them to be recharged.

“There are big daily operating expenses with the repositioning of scooters using cars and vans,” Shevelenko said.

In order for this to work, Tortoise partners with both cities and operators — though the city partnership needs to happen first, Shevelenko said.

“In the same way Google helps Samsung make its phones work with the latest version of Android, it’s in our interest that people build vehicles that are compatible with Tortoise,” Shevelenko said.

In January, Uber spoke about a micromobility robotics team that would explore autonomous scooters and bikes that could drive themselves to be charged, or drive themselves to locations where riders need them.

That entails features like sidewalk detection and, down the road, automatic repositioning of scooters, Uber Head of New Mobility Robotics Alan Wells told TechCrunch.

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