May Mobility, an autonomous vehicle (AV) technology and ride-share operations company in Ann Arbor, has partnered with BraunAbility to modify the May Mobility Toyota Sienna Autono-MaaS (S-AM) fleet to include ADA-compliant vehicles.
The goal is to improve accessibility and equity in transit through autonomous driving technology. The company is also integrating assistive technology within the vehicle cabin through speakers and a display to help people with audio and/or visual impairments see and hear when it is safe to enter and exit the vehicle.
“Ensuring that autonomous vehicles are developed in a way that advances transportation equity goals is a key pillar for May Mobility,” says Erin McCurry, product manager and accessibility lead at May Mobility.
“In the U.S., 3.6 million people do not leave their homes because of travel-limiting disabilities. As we transition our fleet to the Sienna Autono-MaaS platform, we are working toward a future where everyone has access to safe, reliable transportation.”
The partnership with BraunAbility will produce an ADA-compliant, rear-entry conversion of May Mobility’s S-AM vehicles. S-AM is Toyota’s autonomous-mobility as a service (Autono-MaaS) vehicle based on the Sienna that is being utilized for May Mobility’s public road testing.
The vehicles will be able to carry two ambulatory (non-wheelchair users) riders along with a rider using a wheelchair, or four ambulatory riders.
In addition to providing accessibility features for riders using mobility devices, May Mobility will also enhance the Sienna’s interior with audio and visual cues to inform riders of key journey moments, such as arriving at a stop, doors opening and closing, and departure.
The first modified S-AM vehicles will be phased in at all existing May Mobility sites in 2022. The partnership between May Mobility and BraunAbility lays the groundwork for further development and deployment of ADA-compliant vehicles and technologies in the future.
“Our founder, Ralph Braun, began engineering the very first automotive mobility solutions over 50 years ago,” says Staci Kroon, CEO of BraunAbility. “Just like the evolution of automotive mobility, autonomous travel for wheelchair users is a journey of evolving technology. BraunAbility and May Mobility begin that new evolution together, and our solutions will be accessible to every wheelchair user.”