August 10, 2021
May Mobility, which develops autonomous vehicle and shuttle operations, has announced the launch of an on-demand AV shuttle service in Grand Rapids, Mich. In partnership with the city of Grand Rapids, the expanded service began on July 26, as part of Phase 2 of the Grand Rapids Autonomous Vehicle Initiative, transitioning fixed route AV service into a flexible, dynamic system with a new service zone.
“We look forward to continuing our partnership with the City of Grand Rapids through an expanded zone in the downtown area,” said Edwin Olson, co-founder and CEO of May Mobility. “The new service allows us to explore transportation needs in new areas of the community and provides additional opportunities for people to experience safer, greener, more accessible transportation through autonomous mobility.”
The service includes four May Mobility Lexus RX450h vehicles, and one wheelchair-accessible Polaris GEM equipped with May Mobility’s autonomous technology. The service zone operates within a 1.36-square mile area, including more than 20 designated pickup and drop off areas in the downtown Grand Rapids area. The shuttles are free to ride, and operate Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Riders can request vehicles within the service area through a mobile application, available on Android and iOS devices. The app shows a rider the nearest pickup location and suggested drop-off location within closest proximity to their point of interest.
May Mobility said it adopted Via’s autonomous fleet platform to power booking, routing, passenger and vehicle assignment and identification, customer experience, and fleet management as part of the flexible transit solution for the new Grand Rapids deployment. The two companies said they have a long-term strategy to introduce driverless on-demand shared transit systems in multiple locations. The Grand Rapids launch follows a similar service in Arlington, Texas, in which RAPID offers self-driving vehicle rides as part of that city’s on-demand public transit service.
“In order for autonomous vehicles to reach their full potential as part of large-scale transit networks, they must be on-demand, optimally routed, and shared by multiple passengers,” said Cariann Chan, senior vice president of Business at Via. “We are proud to work with May Mobility to offer Via’s flexible platform to help achieve this goal, and to play a leading role in this new era of efficient and equitable transportation solutions in Grand Rapids.”
May Mobility also announced it is working with Gentex to integrate a data capture system with sensing pods in the self-driving shuttles that can track objects, monitor passenger health and safety, and keep vehicles clean and operational. The object-tracking can be used to locate devices such as a phone, briefcase or purse left inside the vehicle.
“We’re excited to continue our partnership with May Mobility,” said Neil Boehm, chief technology officer of Gentex. “This service expansion not only provides the city with a unique, supplemental public transport hub, but also acts as a real-world laboratory for studying, evaluating, and testing various safety and convenience components necessary to better support passengers in the autonomous age.”
For more details on May Mobility, visit its website here.