Now, the company addresses yet another big issue commonly found in urban environments: parking. Bird launched an augmented reality-powered parking technology called Visual Parking System (VPS), a scalable tool that uses Google’s ARCore Geospatial API. This technology allows Bird to geo-localize parked scooters with pinpoint accuracy, using Google’s global 3D scanning, AR (augmented reality) technology, and Google Maps Street View data from around the world.
With the new VPS, Bird riders will park the scooters more consciously, adhering to parking guidelines and keeping ramps and walkways unobstructed. According to Bird CTO Justin Balthrop, the new parking technology will help the company meet cities’ number one need, which is proper parking, in a way that’s never been possible before. It will also allow it to do that at scale in cities all over the world, leveraging Google’s technology and complex data.
In order to use the VPS, riders have to use Bird’s app, which is compatible with both iOS and Android devices. When riders want to end their ride, they scan the surrounding area with the camera on their smartphone. Bird then compares in real-time the images provided by the rider to those in Google’s knowledge base of data and its Street View images, to figure out if the scooter should be parked in that area or not. If the spot is not a good one, the rider won’t be able to end his ride until he corrects the scooter’s parking.
Bird’s city partners have access to the VPS for free, with the technology currently being tested in San Francisco, San Diego, and New York. More than 400 partner cities will eventually be added to the list.