The Berlin-based shared micro-mobility company, TIER Mobility, announced on Thursday that it has acquired California-based Fantasmo, a mapping company that has built an efficient Camera Positioning System (CPS).
This is TIER Mobility’s fourth acquisition made in recent months. With this deal, TIER aims to develop an accurate e-scooter parking system to tackle the challenges of sidewalk riding and tandem riding with Fantasmo’s upcoming computer vision-powered rider assistance system.
The Camera-Powered GPS Replacement
Founded in 2014 by Jameson Detweiler and Ryan Measel, Fantasmo builds a decentralised, open-source stack for indoor and outdoor 3D maps and camera-based positioning. It enables the next generation of AR, robotics and other applications converging physical and digital.
Fantasmo will now introduce computer vision-powered e-scooter parking to create a safer environment for all road users. The company claims that its Camera Positioning System (CPS), a new positioning technology, is ten times more accurate than GPS and can validate e-scooter parking within 20cm or less.
Jameson Detweiler says, “We have been working with TIER closely for over a year. 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 micro-mobility vehicles, pedestrians and everyone else will be able to exist together harmoniously.”
Adding to its current workforce of more than 1,200 employees, TIER will retain all 15 of Fantasmo’s skilled experts in Europe and in the US.
How will Fantasmo help TIER?
TIER claims it is committed to setting the bar high for safety and orderly operations in the micro-mobility industry, and is continuously pioneering the development of new standards. For example, in Paris, TIER managed to improve parking compliance using Fantasmo’s 3D mapping, which has been in use since the spring of 2021, and is so far the only provider with a proven technology-based solution to tackle irresponsible parking.
Because Fantasmo maps cities at the ground level, its positioning technology is considerably 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.
TIER rolled out Fantasmo’s CPS first in Paris and later in other locations across TIER’s network of 185+ cities throughout Europe and the Middle East, including London, York, Dusseldorf, and Leipzig.
Matthias Laug, co-founder of TIER, says, “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. 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,” adds Laug.
“Change Mobility For Good”
Founded in 2018 by Lawrence Leuschner, Julian Blessin and Matthias Laug, TIER Mobility is a shared micro-mobility provider of e-scooters, e-bikes and e-mopeds integrated with 30 different public transport providers.
Through its platform, the company allows for the integration of all micro-mobility assets. This enables it to enter strategic partnerships with public transportation providers and other mobility providers, such as Sixt – a German multinational car rental company.
TIER’s investors include SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Mubadala Capital, Northzone, Goodwater Capital, and White Star Capital. To date, the company has raised a total of $660M in equity and debt.
TIER Mobility’s future plans
In the near future, the micro-mobility provider plans to introduce a new computer vision-based driver assistance technology that – paired with the new IoT – 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 new technology is currently being tested privately and will be rolled out in cities around the world in the coming months.
The new feature is enabled by CPS technology and allows for high positional accuracy and centimetre-level mapping. Fantasmo’s technology provides an extremely accurate representation of vehicle location, even in dense urban environments where GPS signal does not work reliably. Paired with the vision sensor, TIER claims its new IoT platform will create the most advanced ARAS system to date.
The acquisition is the latest significant move for TIER, following the acquisition of micro-mobility operator Spin, Europe’s top bikeshare player nextbike, the Italian subsidiary of Wind Mobility, as well as Hungarian tech agency Makery.