PlanetM, Michigan Economic Development Corp.’s mobility-focused brand and business development program, today announced it awarded a total of $450,000 in grant funding to six companies addressing various mobility and transportation issues in the state.
The companies include Detroit’s Aerotronic, Ann Arbor’s Intvo, Traverse City’s Aveopt, New York’s GoKid, Brighton’s AKTV8, and Propelmee of the United Kingdom.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the latest PlanetM Mobility Grant recipients during her opening remarks at the Center for Automotive Research’s Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City.
“This third round of PlanetM Mobility Grant recipients are using collaboration, fresh thinking, and creativity to push the boundaries of knowledge, technology, and innovation in the mobility space within our state,” says Amanda Roraff, director of technology activations for PlanetM, the mobility-focused brand and business development program. “We’re thrilled to support these innovative solutions coming from such an energized mix of entrepreneurial talent, professionals, and students.”
Propelmee, a self-driving technology company, was granted $100,000 because it has chosen Michigan as the first location outside of the U.K. to expand its self-driving technology development and testing operations, where it will demonstrate an industry-first approach to autonomous driving, without any dependency on prior 3-D high definition mapping. Propelmee’s technology allows self-driving cars to “arrive and drive” without needing to manually create a detailed database of the 3-D environment.
“We chose Michigan as the ideal spot to demonstrate our technology on public roads because of the fantastic support from local government and forward-looking initiatives to promote the development of advanced mobility technologies,” says Zain Khawaja, CEO and founder, of Propelmee. “We especially look forward to tackling the challenging winter driving conditions on Michigan highways, and working towards developing new partnerships with the local automotive industry.”
Traverse City’s Aveopt, which specializes in the development of software and system solutions focused on the emerging drone market, also received a $100,000 PlanetM grant. Along with Atlas Space Operations, the Michigan Department of Transportation, Consumers Energy, Michigan Technological University, and the Michigan Unmanned Aerial System Consortium (MUASC) Aveopt will perform simulation tests and evaluations of its UTM Performance Arbitration System (UPAS) air traffic control software across wireless and satellite communications infrastructures.
“Unmanned aerial systems is widely envisioned to be a disruptive technology over the next 15-20 years, opening the door for significant growth opportunities across various mobility industries and technologies,” says Art Kahn, CEO of Aveopt. “We’re proud that the collaborative work of our team supported by PlanetM will further enable Michigan to be a leading contributor in bringing that vision to fruition.”
The GoKid Connect carpooling solution for schools, teams, and families is bringing its mobility solution to Michigan backed by a $90,000 PlanetM grant. An initial set of schools has been selected for the 2019/2020 school year rollout, however, GoKid is making its solution available to all schools and districts throughout Michigan at a discounted rate as part of the grant program.
“When Michigan’s schools and communities save time, save money, and have access to shared transportation through GoKid, we all win and the grant enables us to kick off a statewide implementation of our award-winning solution,” says Stefanie Lemcke, co-founder and CEO of GoKid.
Intvo, which develops software that detects and predicts pedestrian behavior, especially in high-risk scenarios, received a $60,000 grant. Collaborating with the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), Intvo initially will begin deploying its technology, which communicates pedestrian information to properly equipped vehicles, on the streets of Ann Arbor.
“Our smart vision software pushes the boundaries of autonomous technology in the existing market and enhances the robustness of the autonomous vehicle’s vision,” says Assam Alzookery, CEO and founder of Intvo. “This pilot would accelerate the widespread adoption of Intvo’s technology, which will improve the safety of an increasingly distracted world.”
A $50,000 grant went to Aerotronic, which is working in conjunction with DTE Energy to pilot a remote sensing technology solution that captures vegetation and pole top data for the utility industry, using machine learning to analyze remote sensing data and explore how integrating these insights eliminates business process inefficiencies. Ultimately, the technology would be coupled with a drone for autonomous operation.
AKTV8 was granted $50,000 to test a new generation electronic tire inflation system for Class-8 trailers in western Michigan. The SMAR-te system will estimate the load of the trailer and electronically inflate and deflate all tires to optimize tire contact to the road. Network and Bluetooth connectivity enhance diagnostic data for fleet management while a warning light alerts the driver to tire leaks and potential overload conditions.
“AKTV8 is extremely excited to have been selected for the PlanetM mobility pilot,” said Josh Coombs, CTO and cofounder of AKTV8. “Electronic control of pneumatics and air suspension is a key enabler of autonomous vehicles and improved safety for commercial trucking,” says Josh Coombs, co-founder and chief technology officer of AKTV8. “Tire Pilot SMAR-te is another example of AKTV8’s made-easy approach to electrifying traditional pneumatics.”