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Ola S1 Pro accident: Analyzing the company's statement

Christopher Chaves Updated: April 22, 2022, 10:54 PM IST

Man! EV scooters can't catch a break of late, it would appear. Amid incidents of EV scooters catching fire in recent times, a man from Guwahati, had claimed that his son, who was riding an Ola S1 Pro scooter on March 26 2022, crashed and suffered injuries due to a defect in the scooter's regeneration system.

Twitter user, Balwant Singh posted a series of tweets wherein he claimed that his son's S1 Pro scooter accelerated by itself instead of decelerating under regenerative braking right before a speed breaker, causing the rider and his machine to go airborne and crash-land. The son was later hospitalised where he received treatment for fractures in left hand and 16 stitches in right due to the accident.

Well, Ola Electric took some time out this 'Earth Day' to respond to the disgruntled customer, officially stating, through its own Twitter handle, that after a 'thorough investigation of the accident', scooter data (collected by the company's operating system via the vehicle's sensor data) shows that the rider was overspeeding on multiple instances the night of the accident, and that the accident itself occurred due to the rider panic braking, and due to no fault of the vehicle.

Let's have a look at the graph posted on OLA Electric's Twitter which shows the timeline of 30mins prior to the damaging incident.

In Section One and Two you can see that rider travelled at high speed in Hyper mode, reaching a top speed of 115kmph on a couple of occasions. At 00:08:51, yes, the time is in there too, the rider accelerated to 95kmph in Hyper Mode and at 00:09:41, the data shows all three brakes being applied together - front brake, rear brake and regenerative brake (reverse throttle) - likely due to the speed-breaker on the road. We see a reduction in speed to around 80kmph which complies with the company's claim followed by a drastic drop in the speed spike, down to 0kmph which would indicate the time the vehicle crashed and scraped to a halt. This data provided by the graph certainly contradicts the customer's claims and the notion of the vehicle accelerating instead of braking.

Now there are a lot of factors that we are unaware of at this point in time. The road lighting condition since the incident occurred little after 12am for starters, the conditions of the road itself and obviously the mental awareness of the rider at the time, but if there's one thing that we can conclude from the data graph is that the scooter in concern was definitely being ridden aggressively. The rider was either on the gas or on the brakes, given the sharp spikes on the chart, with barely any coasting in the mentioned timeframe.

This incident and the resulting response brings into question your privacy as the owner of a scooter of this sort, as in, how much information the manufacturer is gathering has on your riding data, and what can you do about it. I mean, all the sensors are there gathering data, and the scooter is capable of receiving OTA updates, so who draws the line drawn stopping a manufacturer from publishing your personal ride data to the public and pointing a finger at you for overspeeding at their whim and fancy. Some will argue that this is a breach of privacy? And they won't be wrong. Inconsiderate of how sensitive the data may be, does a manufacturer have the right to show the world your personal data? Because, let's face it, everyone is a little naughty sometimes and doesn't do absolutely everything by the book at all times. So, who's stopping anyone from misusing this data at these times? Should you be concerned? I for one, certainly am. I personally wouldn't want the company I shelled out over a lakh of rupees of my hard earned money for a product keeping track of my whereabouts and the speeds I'm travelling at. I mean it's not some super sensitive data at the end of the day, but it's the principle of the matter, right? So who's to stop manufacturers from doing even more with your personal data, without your permission, with coming advancements in technology?

One might also be perplexed as to how a scooter manufacturer that claims to have come out with a product for the masses with a top speed of 115kmph listed on the official product, can come out and accuse one of its paid customers of overspeeding, but then again, Ola Electric wouldn't be the first manufacturer to do it now, would they. At least, from the owner's perspective, it all boils down to you using the vehicle responsibly in any and all given conditions. But should Ola have posted the ride data of the accident at all? Let me know what you think in the comment's below.

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