May Mobility, an Ann Arbor startup building self-driving vehicles, has partnered with Bedrock, a real estate firm in Detroit, to deploy autonomous shuttles into downtown Detroit that will transport passengers starting Wednesday, June 27. This is the first deployment of independent autonomous vehicles on public streets on any urban core in the country.
“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,” says Jay Farner, CEO of Quicken Loans.
May Mobility will provide a fleet of electric vehicles to Bedrock. The vehicles will transport Quicken Loans and its Family of Companies employees between offices, parking sites, events, and other downtown destinations, beginning with a one-mile loop connecting the Bricktown Parking Garage to the One Campus Martius and First National Buildings.
“As a company dedicated to advancing mobility for a more livable, walkable and accessible community, Michigan-grown May Mobility made the ideal partner to further this mission,” says Jim Ketai, CEO of Bedrock. “These autonomous vehicles will allow us to lead the nation in providing memorable and efficient transportation methods for our residential, office, and retail tenants.”
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 municipality, developers, and business customers across the United States. The vehicles are deployed among other cars, cyclists, pedestrians, and more, allowing May Mobility to gather data from vehicles, riders, and business and community partners.
“Our partnership with Bedrock shows that our self-driving vehicles can help address today’s most difficult transportation problems,” says 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 there, it will provide operational support for the new route, store and charge the shuttles, and coordinate route expansion.
“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,” says 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.”
The shuttles will have six seats and will include attendants in vehicles at launch to monitor the vehicles and help orient first-time riders. May Mobility plans to offer on-demand services and expand its suite of vehicles and services in 2019.
In related news, Detroit’s Quicken Loans has announced a long-term partnership with Community Solutions, the country’s largest nonprofit focused on ending homelessness in the U.S. Quicken Loans’ commitment includes financial and operational support for Community Solutions’ work in 60 communities across the country. The company will also offer team member time and expertise in areas such as communications, logistics, and data analytics.