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Self-driving e-scooters to make debut in Peachtree Corners (yes, SELF-driving)

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Could scooters that park themselves—however bizarre it looks—help fix Atlanta’s e-scooter woes?

A picture of an e-scooter driving itself.
Just an e-scooter, casually driving itself down the street.
Tortoise, via YouTube

UPDATE, March 23, 2020: A Tortoise representative told Curbed Atlanta the launch has been postponed “due to the outbreak of COVID-19.”

The answer to many of Atlanta’s e-scooter-related woes could make its worldwide debut on Monday—in the City of Peachtree Corners.

This week, representatives with tech startup Tortoise announced the company would be introducing a small fleet of e-scooters that can—wait for it—drive themselves.

Atlanta, among other major cities, is dotted with the micromobility devices, which are too often found carelessly littered wherever the last rider dropped them off.

In many cases, that means illegally parked on sidewalks, toppled over in streets, or, occasionally, stuffed into trash bins.

By utilizing a system of small training wheels on either side of the scooters that works in tandem with a network of cameras, Tortoise devices can reposition themselves to avoid obstructing public rights of way.

The Gwinnett County City of Peachtree Corners, Tortoise’s pilot location, recently passed an ordinance mandating that all e-scooter operators offer automated repositioning capabilities on their vehicles.

The city’s experiment with self-driving, riderless devices is expected to last a year, initially.

The purpose of Peachtree Corners’s policy is to “establish rules and regulations governing the operation of shared micromobility devices, within designated geofenced areas of the City of Peachtree Corners, during the 12-month pilot program,” the city policy says.

Expected to launch this Monday, the Tortoise scooters wouldn’t, of course, be totally autonomous. Or operated by ghosts.

When running sans rider, they’d move at just 5 miles per house and rely on a combination of autonomy when roads are clear and remote control when other vehicles and pedestrians are around, Curbed has previously reported.

Tortoise officials have also said they aim to partner with other scooter operators to incorporate their automated repositioning technology in other fleets around the world.

Here’s what to expect, in live-action format: