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Voi and Bumblebee Power partner on UK’s first wireless e-scooter charging trial launched at the University of Warwick

  • Time-consuming and resource-intensive charging processes could be replaced by wireless charging for e-scooter rental fleets
  • Voi trial in partnership with Bumblebee Power and WMG on the University of Warwick campus allows real-world testing in a ‘mini-city’ environment
  • The ease of use for consumers and a reduction in operating costs through wider adoption of this technology
  • A successful trial could pave the way for seamless and convenient charging of e-scooters

Monday 14 November 2022

Voi Technology, the UK’s largest e-scooter rental operator, has partnered with Bumblebee Power and WMG to trial the use of wireless e-scooter charging at the University of Warwick campus over a 6-month period — potentially changing the future of the micromobility industry.

As with the charging of electric cars, the charging of e-scooters is a challenge for the operators of extensive rental schemes. The batteries powering these zero-emissions e-scooters are often charged safely at their warehouse, where they are replaced when vehicles receive their regular inspections, or by the company’s in-field team who visit each vehicle to perform battery swaps.

These processes can lead to high operating costs for all e-scooter businesses as they can be both time-consuming and often resource-intensive by requiring additional warehouse infrastructure for safe battery charging as well as transportation costs needed to perform swaps across the operating town or city. Therefore, Voi began exploring new charging methodologies as a result that could provide the same excellent user experience whilst also delivering a similar vehicle efficient and effective battery performance. The potential solution: wireless charging.

“The Bumblebee technology not only provides automatic connection via a very efficient wireless charging system — saving operational expenditure for the fleet operator by eliminating battery swaps — but also extends the battery’s life, by controlling the charging regime while maximising vehicle availability.”

David Yates, CTO at Bumblebee Power

In partnership with Bumblebee Power, Voi is trialling the use of wireless charging pads by retrofitting a number of e-scooters with technology enabling the vehicles to be charged where they are parked. The University of Warwick campus ‘mini-city’ environment has been selected for this wireless trial as it provides an excellent ‘living lab’ environment to safely test this innovative transport technology. Available to estate staff only, the e-scooters will be regularly used across the busy university environment with thousands of staff and students, to help them perform their everyday duties.

The success of the trial could mean not only reducing operational costs but make their integration into the street and transport infrastructure more streamlined and helping the modal shift to a convenient and flexible mode of transport easier for new and existing riders. The trial will provide data on the wireless system performance as well as user behaviour and interaction with the technology, which is crucial to any future large-scale deployment. If the trial proves successful it could be expanded to cover more of the Voi fleet across the UK.

“We’re delighted to be partnering with Bumblebee Power and the University of Warwick to develop wireless charging for our e-scooters, an innovation that could change the whole micromobility industry. Applying this technology has the potential to not only reduce the operational impact of how we charge batteries for our vehicles but also in making an already convenient and flexible service even more accessible for new and existing riders. Over the coming months, we’ll look forward to working with our partners to maximise the innovative potential of this technology.”

Sam Pooke, Senior Policy Manager at Voi UK & Ireland

“Wireless charging technology for micromobility has the potential to reduce operational costs for fleet operators and provide a convenient charging solution for users. The University of Warwick campus is an ideal location to trial transport innovations such as these, providing a real world, mini city environment with world-class teaching and research facilities.”

David Evans, Lead Engineer at WMG, University of Warwick

Note to Editors

About Voi 

Founded in 2018, Voi is a Swedish micromobility company offering e-scooter and e-bike sharing in partnership with towns, cities and local communities. We believe e-scooters can play a central role in changing how people move in our towns and cities in the future. We want to ensure that the micromobility transformation happens the right way – through real innovative technology, open and transparent dialogue with towns, cities and governments and by adapting our products to local needs. Voi’s holistic Environmental Action Plan tackles emissions and promotes renewable energy use and circularity along its supply chain. 

Voi operates in over 100 towns and cities across 11 countries. It is headquartered in Stockholm and employs 1,000 people. To date, Voi boasts more than seven million riders and has served more than 125+ million rides. 

About WMG, University of Warwick

WMG is a world-leading research and education group, transforming organisations and driving innovation through a unique combination of collaborative research and development, and pioneering education programmes.  As an international role model for successful partnerships between academia and the private and public sectors, WMG develops advancements nationally and globally, in applied science, technology and engineering, to deliver real impact to economic growth, society and the environment.

WMG is one of the founding partners of the High-Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult, and leads HVM Catapult activities on Transport Electrification and Connected and Autonomous Mobility. The Catapult network’s mission is to leverage research and educational expertise to de-risk innovation for UK manufacturing, to improve business resilience, productivity, competitiveness, and sustainability.

In 2022 WMG released “Micromobility: a UK Roadmap”, which after consultation with industry and user stakeholders set out an informed classification framework for the myriad of new low-powered vehicles entering the market at pace. WMG is the founder of Micromobility UK, the UK’s first dedicated annual conference for the micromobility sector, bringing together and connecting the full supply chain with users, researchers and policy makers.

About Bumblebee Power

Bumblebee Power is commercialising high-frequency wireless charging technology based on research and Intellectual Property originating from Imperial College London. Bumblebee Power’s technology spans air gaps and has a tolerance to misalignment 3 times greater than existing low-frequency systems. It is also significantly lower in weight and cost. The company has proven its capability across a wide power range from watts to kilowatts enabling it to be applied to micromobility and industrial applications. 

The combination of high-efficiency automatic charging, smart control, and wide power range makes the company’s technology an affordable and practical method of charging battery-powered vehicles and enables full autonomy of industrial equipment.