Aug. 11, 2021 (Ann Arbor) — May Mobility, a leader in autonomous vehicle (AV) technology and shuttle operations, in partnership with the City of Grand Rapids, Via, the leader in TransitTech, and Gentex, today announced the launch of an on-demand AV shuttle service in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The expanded, on-demand service began on July 26, 2021, as part of Phase 2 of the Grand Rapids Autonomous Vehicle Initiative (AVGR), and transitions the prior fixed route AV service into a flexible, dynamic system in a new service zone.
The on-demand service, which includes four May Mobility Lexus RX450h vehicles and one wheelchair-accessible Polaris GEM equipped with May Mobility’s autonomous technology, operates within a 1.36 sq. mile service zone that includes more than 20 designated pick up and drop off areas in downtown Grand Rapids. The May Mobility AV shuttles are free to ride and operate Monday – Friday from 7am – 7 pm.“We look forward to continuing our partnership with the City of Grand Rapids through an expanded zone in the downtown area,” said Edwin Olson, co-founder and CEO of May Mobility. “The new service allows us to explore transportation needs in new areas of the community and provides additional opportunities for people to experience safer, greener, more accessible transportation through autonomous mobility.”
“The City of Grand Rapids has enjoyed its partnership with May Mobility to provide innovative mobility options through the Grand Rapids Autonomous Vehicle Initiative. We look forward to embarking on this next phase together and support continued development of autonomous mobility technology while providing another equitable mobility option to connect underserved neighborhoods in Ward 1 to the downtown area,” said Justin Kimura, the Assistant Director of Mobile GR.
Transitioning to “On Demand”
May Mobility has adopted Via’s autonomous fleet platform to power booking, routing, passenger and vehicle assignment and identification, customer experience, and fleet management as part of their new flexible transit solution for this Grand Rapids deployment. The partners have a long-term strategy to introduce driverless on-demand shared transit systems in multiple locations. The Grand Rapids launch follows the companies’ joint RAPID autonomous vehicle service in Arlington, Texas. RAPID offers autonomous vehicle rides as part of the City of Arlington’s large on-demand public transit service with Via, and is the first-of-its kind in the US.
“In order for autonomous vehicles to reach their full potential as part of large-scale transit networks, they must be on-demand, optimally routed, and shared by multiple passengers,” said Cariann Chan, SVP of Business, Via. “We are proud to work with May Mobility to offer Via’s flexible platform to help achieve this goal, and to play a leading role in this new era of efficient and equitable transportation solutions in Grand Rapids.”
Riders can request vehicles within the designated area of service by downloading the May Mobility mobile application, which is available for both Android and iOS devices. The app shows the rider the nearest pickup location and suggested drop off location within closest proximity to their point of interest.
No Item Left Behind
It’s a common situation when an item such as a mobile device, a briefcase or a purse is left on public transportation and the subsequent feeling of helplessness that follows. May Mobility and Gentex are working together to integrate a data capture system with sensing pods into the May Mobility self-driving shuttles that will help the companies develop technology to track objects, monitor passenger health and safety, and keep the vehicle clean and operational.
“We’re excited to continue our partnership with May Mobility,” said Neil Boehm, Gentex chief technology officer. “This service expansion not only provides the city with a unique, supplemental public transport hub, but also acts as a real-world laboratory for studying, evaluating, and testing various safety and convenience components necessary to better support passengers in the autonomous age.”
To celebrate the launch of the on-demand service in an adjacent service zone May Mobility and MobileGR will host demonstration rides on Aug. 24 from 10 am – 4 pm. at the YMCA Grand Rapids, 475 Lake Michigan Dr NW.
About May Mobility
May Mobility is a leader in autonomous vehicle technology development and deployment. With more than 275,000 autonomous rides to date, May Mobility is committed to delivering safe, efficient and sustainable shuttle solutions designed to complement today’s public transportation options. The company’s ultimate goal is to realize a world where self-driving systems make transportation more accessible and reliable, the roads safer, and encourage better land use in order to foster more green, vibrant, and livable spaces. For more information, visit maymobility.com.
Founded in 2012, Via pioneered the TransitTech category by using new technologies to power public mobility systems, optimizing networks of dynamic shuttles, buses, wheelchair accessible vehicles, school buses, and autonomous 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 cost of public transit and provide accessible options that rival the convenience of a personal car at a much reduced 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, with 500 global partners on five continents, and counting.
Founded in 1974, Gentex Corporation (NASDAQ: GNTX) is a supplier of automatic-dimming rearview mirrors and electronics to the automotive industry, dimmable aircraft windows for aviation markets, and fire protection products to the fire protection market. Visit the company website at www.gentex.com.
About the City of Grand Rapids
The City of Grand Rapids provides a full range of services to residents, students and visitors. Grand Rapids is a diverse and culturally rich community of nearly 200,000 residents located along the banks of the Grand River, 30 miles east of Lake Michigan. It is the second-largest city in Michigan and serves as the county seat of Kent County and the economic engine for the western part of the state. Grand Rapids has been recognized nationally for its quality of life and named one of the 25 best places to live in the U.S. It also has been touted among the best cities to start a career, raise a family and retire, among others. Stay connected with City news, events and information at: grandrapidsmi.us, facebook.com/CityofGrandRapids , twitter.com/CityGrandRapids, and instagram.com/citygrandrapids.