Lime's co-founder drops some big hints about the scooter company's plans to increase safety features

Business InsiderBrad Bao, cofounder and executive chairman of Lime, speaks with Business Insider’s deputy executive editor Cadie Thompson.
  • Lime has big plans when it comes to safety: including AI, footpath detection, and tools to lock out drunk riders.
  • The company has already given away helmets as part of its “respect the ride” campaign.
  • Still, injuries are flooding emergency rooms and the company has come under fire for not doing more.

As injuries from scooter riding flood emergency rooms across the country, operators are coming under fire for not doing more to ensure user safety.

Lime, which has invested heavily in a “respect the ride” campaign and given out thousands of free helmets, may have some higher tech tricks up its sleeve as well, founder and chairman Brad Bao said Tuesday at Business Insider’s IGNITION conference.

“In addition to the dynamic speed limit,” Bao said of a feature already live on Lime’s fourth generation scooters in places like school zones, “We’re testing out balancing, whether a scooter or bike can be self-balancing. And there are other things like footpath detection. It’s about increasing safety of pedestrians as well as riders, we’re looking into we can detect if a user is riding on a footpath and limit that behaviour.”

Read more:
Lime issues its second scooter recall in less than a month

Eventually, it could even detect if you’re too inebriated to ride.

“It probably won’t be a Breathometer,” he said, “but we will probably use more AI and algorithms to detect whether a user’s behaviour is abnormal.”

Bao compared new innovations in scooter safety to the invention of anti-lock brakes in cars. “I like to use ABS an example,” he said. “That did not exist at the invention of the car, and now we don’t even notice it.”

As for the two reports last week that Uber was considering a bid for Lime or its competitor Bird, Bao said he was “very flattered to be part of the speculation” but wants to remain an independent company for the time being.

Two Uber executives, speaking at the same conference, also declined to comment directly on the reports.

“Now that Uber is really, really devoted to being a major player in the micro-mobility space, we’re getting approached constantly by players on the global scene, wanting to partner with us, looking for acquisitions,” Rachel Holt, Uber’s head of new modality, told Business Insider at the Ignition conference Monday. “My guess is that those kind of rumours will continue and we’re still really focused on building our own product right now.”

The same remains for Lime, too. “We think the vision we have is fairly unique,” Bao said . “This is not the first time [there have been rumours], and this probably is not the last time.”

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