The mode of getting around the Motor City is ever-changing, now that self-driving shuttles have hit the streets of Detroit. May Mobility, an Ann Arbor startup building self-driving vehicles, in partnership with Bedrock, Dan Gilbert’s full-service real estate firm, announced the first commercial deployment of independent autonomous vehicles on public streets in any urban core in America.
The shuttles hit the streets of Detroit Tuesday morning, along routes in the city’s central business district. Under the partnership, May Mobility will provide five six-seat electric vehicles to Gilbert and Bedrock. These vehicles will transport Quicken Loans and its family of companies, close to 18,000 employees, between their offices, parking sites, events, and other downtown destinations, beginning with a 1-mile loop connecting the Bricktown Parking Garage to One Campus Martius, and the First National Building in the heart of downtown Detroit.
The self-driving vehicles are replacing a bus-shuttle route currently driven by humans. They will run from 5 a.m. to midnight on weekdays along a route about a mile long, which starts in Cadillac Square, passes through Greektown and includes Bates Street, Beaubien Street, East Congress Street, and Monroe Avenue. During peak hours, there will be three vehicles running on the route. The shuttles will officially begin transporting passengers on June 27.
“Our partnership with Bedrock shows that our self-driving vehicles can help address today’s most difficult transportation problems,” said Edwin Olson, CEO and co-founder of May Mobility. “Our technology allows us to provide fully-managed transportation services that outperform traditional services on wait time, rider satisfaction, and other metrics. By improving the lives of Bedrock’s employees and tenants, we move closer to our vision that everyone uses May Mobility every day.”
As part of the expansion, May Mobility has opened its first office outside of Ann Arbor at 601 Franklin in Detroit. From this location, May Mobility will provide full-time operational support for the Bedrock Bricktown route, store and charge the shuttles, and coordinate future route expansion.
“Detroit is at the forefront of technology and innovation, which is why it makes perfect sense for the first fully-autonomous shuttle route to launch in our city,” said Jay Farner, CEO, Quicken Loans.
May Mobility maps, tests, and adds environmental sensors to routes block-by-block, which delivers a unique approach to autonomous transportation. This helps solve parking, traffic and land management issues for municipalities, developers, and business customers across the U.S.
The vehicles are deployed among other cars, cyclists, pedestrians and more, making self-driving vehicles a normal part of everyday life. As a result, May Mobility gathers invaluable data from vehicles, riders, business and community partners, which is crucial in helping expand services to additional roads and highways in the future.
“As a Michigan-based company with offices in Detroit and Ann Arbor, we are proud that our shuttles are solving transportation problems faced by everyday workers,” said Olson. “Bedrock and May Mobility share a vision for a new era in Detroit, where transportation is safe, convenient, and accessible. Self-driving technology will transform cities, improving the lives of everyday people, driving commerce, and helping to create new green spaces by reducing the need for parking. Much of the necessary technology was developed here in Michigan, and at May Mobility, we’ve been able to turn it into a system that will start creating a positive impact today. It is fitting that we begin in our own backyard, the Motor City.”
May Mobility’s shuttle platform highlights three key focus areas: self-driven, community-driven, and data-driven. This approach – partnering with developers, urban planners and municipalities to understand their needs and design solutions – establishes May Mobility as the trusted autonomous vehicle partner, both in communities and across the industry. May Mobility will have attendants in vehicles to help orient first-time riders and to monitor the vehicles. The company will offer on-demand services and expand its suite of vehicles and services to other cities next year.