Tier acquires Fantasmo to make e-scooters safer

  • April 11, 2022
  • Steve Rogerson

German micromobility provider Tier Mobility has acquired California-based Fantasmo to introduce a computer-vision powered rider assistance system.

Tier is developing an accurate e-scooter parking system, which will help bring order to city streets and protect vulnerable road users. This purchase marks another step in tackling problems such as pavement riding and tandem riding with Fantasmo’s upcoming computer vision-powered rider assistance system.

Fantasmo has already earned a reputation with its camera positioning system (CPS), technology that is said to be ten times more accurate than GPS and can validate e-scooter parking within 20cm or less.

Tier and Fantasmo have established a relationship in the past 12 months, with mapping company Fantasmo supporting Tier’s efforts to eliminate irresponsible parking, resolving a major concern for city authorities and pedestrians, in particular people with visual impairment. The company rolled out Fantasmo’s CPS first in Paris and in other locations across Tier’s network of 185 cities throughout Europe and the Middle East, including London, York, Dusseldorf and Leipzig.

Tier says it is committed to setting the bar high for safety and orderly operations in the micromobility industry and is pioneering the development of standards. In Paris, for example, it managed to improve parking compliance using Fantasmo’s 3D mapping, which has been in use since spring 2021, and claims so far to be the only provider with proven technology to tackle irresponsible parking.

“The acquisition of Fantasmo is a major step forward in our continuous investment in innovative features and technologies that will help to make e-scooters more compliant and safer for all road users,” said Matthias Laug, CTO of Tier. “From the very beginning we’ve been hugely impressed by Fantasmo’s camera positioning system, which allows us to directly address the concerns of vulnerable road users when it comes to how e-scooters are parked. Our plan is to expand the positioning technology to numerous cities in Europe and the Middle East in the near future and at the same time invest in the upcoming computer vision-powered rider assistance system.”

Jameson Detweiler, president and co-founder of Fantasmo, added: “We have been working with Tier closely for over a year, and have experienced first hand their commitment to be the best micromobility platform for cities, citizens and riders. We are excited to continue on this journey together as we continue to expand our CPS powered parking validation technology and into the future by bringing that technology and advanced rider assistance systems directly onto vehicles. We are confident that with Tier’s operational and vehicle experience and Fantasmo’s computer vision technology, we can ensure micromobility vehicles, pedestrians and everyone else will be able to exist together harmoniously.”

Tier plans to introduce computer vision-based rider assistance technology that paired with IoT technology can detect traffic violations and collisions as well as reckless riding on the scooter. Riders who do not follow the rules and regulations will be alerted to their offences and may even be fined or banned. The technology is being tested privately and will be rolled out in cities around the world in the coming months.

The feature is enabled by CPS technology and allows for high positional accuracy and centimetre-level mapping. Unlike GPS tracking, Fantasmo’s technology provides a more accurate representation of vehicle location, even in dense urban environments where the GPS signal does not work reliably. Paired with the vision sensor, the IoT platform should create what the company hopes will be the most advanced rider-assistance system to date.

Fantasmo builds 3D maps of cities by foot, walking, for example, over 2500km of Paris streets with its camera. Because it maps cities at the ground level, its positioning technology is more accurate than satellite-based GPS. As with Tier’s previous parking system, any user attempting to park in a no-go area, or outside of a designated parking bay, will not be able to end a ride. The feature requires no additional parking infrastructure from cities, only a completed 3D mapping of the city in question.

Adding to its workforce of more than 1200 employees, Tier will retain all 15 of Fantasmo’s experts in Europe and in the USA. The amount of the purchase price and further financial details of the transaction have not been disclosed.

Tier recently purchased micromobility operator Spin, European bikeshare player Nextbike, the Italian subsidiary of Wind Mobility, as well as Hungarian tech agency Makery. In October last year, Tier closed its $200m series D funding round. To date, Tier has raised a total of $660m in equity and debt.

Founded in 2018 by Lawrence Leuschner, Matthias Laug and Julian Blessin, Tier is headquartered in Berlin and operates in more than 185 cities across 20 countries in Europe and the Middle East.