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Ann Arbor's May Mobility raises $22 million to deploy driverless shuttles across US

A driverless shuttle on the streets of Detroit (Photo: May Mobility)
A driverless shuttle on the streets of Detroit (Photo: May Mobility)

ANN ARBOR – Autonomous vehicle company May Mobility announced Wednesday it has raised $22 million in a Series A round led by Cyprus Capital Partners and Millennium New Horizons, along with Thayer Ventures, LG Technology Ventures and its return investors BMW i Ventures, Maven Ventures, Toyota AI Ventures and Y Combinator.

That brings their total funds raised to $33.6 million, after a successful seed round saw the company raise $11.5 million last year.

The startup began two years ago at the University of Michigan when Edwin Olson, a U-M associate professor in computer science and engineering, teamed up with alumni Alisyn Malek (COO) and Steve Vozar (CTO) to license five autonomous vehicle technologies developed at U-M.

The company's driverless six-seat shuttles have been in operation in Columbus, Ohio, and Detroit for nearly a year. Each shuttle has a human safety driver on board in case of emergencies, but thanks to advanced autonomous driving technology, the shuttles drive by themselves.

Plans for a new program in Grand Rapids are in the works, as well as a pilot program in Rhode Island set to launch soon that will give members of the public free rides on its route.

Read: Ann Arbor's May Mobility to run Rhode Island's first self-driving shuttle service

"We -- today -- provide mobility services that are reliable and safe, on public roads, with a tech stack designed to operate now and ready to scale as the industry and customers are ready," said May Mobility CEO Edwin Olson in a statement. "Our unique technology solves customers’ real-world transportation problems, and we are continuously collecting valuable technical data and market insights while generating revenue in the process. May Mobility is uniquely positioned as the only autonomous vehicle company that’s truly open for business."

A May Mobility driverless shuttle at A2 Tech Trek's Mobility Row on June 15, 2018 (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)
A May Mobility driverless shuttle at A2 Tech Trek's Mobility Row on June 15, 2018 (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)

May Mobility's vehicles are able to learn from one another in real time, allowing them to "think" on the road. The longer the shuttles drive, the smarter the technology grows, learning from other vehicles, pedestrians and bikes in real-world environments.

COO Alisyn Malek said that this new round will help accelerate the company's growth and serve new partners.

"Communities throughout the U.S. are struggling to provide convenient and reliable transportation services, and our model is already being deployed to solve real parking, traffic, and land management issues for municipalities, developers, and business customers," she said. "This new round of funding will help us expand existing routes and allow us to serve new partners as we accelerate our growth this year."

May Mobility's main competitors are Coast Autonomous, Drive.ai, Navya, as well as other big-name motor companies currently testing autonomous vehicle technologies.

"Simply put, we believe that the future of urban transportation is shared, electric, and autonomous," Benjamin Birnbaum, co-founder of Repower Group -- an affiliate of Cyrus Capital, Cyrus Capital said in a statement. "May Mobility has a uniquely talented team, a scalable operating model, and is already solving mission-critical challenges for its customer base that meet this vision … We believe that May Mobility’s impact on accessibility, quality, and cost of urban transportation will be transformative for the way that people move around cities."

May Mobility says it has plans to deploy more commercial shuttles in cities across the U.S. this year.

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