Sept. 28, 2022 (GRAND RAPIDS, MN) — Today, May Mobility, a leader in the development and deployment of autonomous vehicle (AV) technology, and Via, the global leader in TransitTech, will launch the first public transit project using American Disability Act (ADA)-compliant AVs in rural America.
The companies’ goal for the Grand Rapids, Minnesota project is to demonstrate that AVs reach their greatest societal impact when used for public transportation. The deployment will allow anyone to book a free, on-demand, shared ride from an AV. The project will also advance the deployments of AVs in rural terrains and diverse and sometimes harsh weather conditions.
“We’re passionate about making transportation better for everyone, and providing innovative, accessible transportation solutions to rural communities is a key next step in that journey,” said Edwin Olson, CEO for May Mobility. “May Mobility and Via are proud to bring cutting-edge technology and services to Grand Rapids with the first commercial fleet of Toyota Sienna Autono-MaaS vehicles.”
“Via is proud to partner with May Mobility for the new Grand Rapids site launch, which advances our shared belief that AVs are most impactful when they are accessible, shared, and complementary to a community’s public transit system,” said Israel Duanis, Head of Autonomous Vehicles at Via. “Via is committed to supporting rural connectivity for riders of all needs. We believe that Grand Rapids will serve as a pioneer for how autonomous, innovative mobility can transform the way small communities move.”
May Mobility’s fleet in Grand Rapids will mark the first commercial launch of the Toyota Sienna Autono-MaaS platform, including the first ADA-compliant versions of the vehicle that the company announced earlier this year.
Powered by Via’s AI-based booking and routing algorithms, on-demand rides are available to anyone through the May Mobility app (available on iOS and Android), which matches riders headed in the same direction into one vehicle to create efficient, flexible shared trips. Throughout the city, more than 70 pick-up and drop-off locations have been identified and established based on popular travel patterns and community input, which helped shape the service zone, hours of operation and other considerations. Riders without smartphones can also book by calling 211.
While rides are open to all, they are designed to serve those without a private car or who have mobility challenges — with the aim of using technology to help everyone achieve an independent lifestyle supported by convenient travel, regardless of income or ability.
This project will expand mobility access for the Grand Rapids community by complementing the town’s existing fixed-route bus lines and will cover nearly 17 square miles, allowing residents and visitors to easily connect with the city’s restaurants, grocery stores, pharmacies, churches, fitness centers, and more. The service will also provide coverage on weekday nights and weekends when other options aren’t available.
The deployment signifies another step forward for May Mobility and Via’s history of introducing AVs as public transportation to communities across the country and follows the launch of three other AV services in Arlington, Tex., Ann Arbor, Mich., and Grand Rapids, Mich. in 2021.
Via and May Mobility look forward to continuing to help cities and communities integrate autonomous vehicles into their public transit systems to expand access to safe, efficient, equitable and sustainable mobility.
The 18-month project, called “goMARTI,” was created, built and deployed with the support of the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the City of Grand Rapids, The PLUM Catalyst, 211 and Mobility Mania, among others.
Founded in 2012, Via pioneered the TransitTech category by using new technologies to develop public mobility systems — optimizing networks of buses, shuttles, wheelchair accessible vehicles, school buses, autonomous vehicles, and electric vehicles around the globe. Building the world’s most efficient, equitable, and sustainable transportation network for all riders — including those with limited mobility, those without smartphones, and unbanked populations — Via works with its partners to lower the costs of public transit while providing transportation options that rival the convenience of a personal car while reducing the environmental impact. At the intersection of transportation and technology, Via is a visionary market leader that combines software innovation with sophisticated service design and operational expertise to fundamentally improve the way the world moves, providing technology in 600 communities and more than 35 countries and counting.
About May Mobility
May Mobility, established in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 2017, is building the world’s best autonomy system. Their proprietary Multi-Policy Decision Making (MPDM) system is at the core of their mission to help make cities safer, greener, and more accessible. MPDM’s proven track record has delivered more than 320,000 autonomy-enabled rides to date in several public transit applications across the U.S. and Japan. With key strategic partnerships including some of the world’s most innovative automotive and transportation companies, such as Toyota Motor Corporation, May Mobility aims to achieve the highest standard in rider safety, sustainability, and transportation equity. For more information, visit www.maymobility.com.