ANN ARBOR – A new transportation service will soon be offering individuals rides in the downtown area at no cost.
The shuttle service will be up and running on Oct. 11 and was made possible in part by a grant through the state of Michigan’s mobility efforts.
Additional partners in the project include 4M, !important Safety Technologies, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification.
“We are thrilled to be launching a new shuttle service here in our hometown so that our friends, family and the entire community of Ann Arbor can experience our self-driving technology first hand,” founder and CEO of May Mobility Edwin Olson said in a release.
A fleet of five autonomous shared vehicles will be operated by May Mobility including one Polaris GEM fully electric vehicle and four hybrid-electric Lexus RH 450h vehicles. The Polaris will have capacity for one wheelchair passenger and the Lexus RX 450h vehicles will have a three passenger capacity.
The service will operate around Kerrytown, the State Street corridor and the University of Michigan’s central campus.
May Mobility will be releasing a free app closer to the launch date for users to reserve rides on A2GO.
“This deployment demonstrates the collaboration happening in Michigan across public and private sectors that is driving impactful transportation solutions for individuals and creating an environment where companies like May Mobility can find long-term growth and success,” Chief Mobility Officer for the state of Michigan, Trevor Pawl, said in a release.
“A2GO combines Michigan’s opportunistic approach to the advancement of new mobility technology with our commitment to improving the quality of life for people across the state and we are excited to help bring this innovative shuttle service from May Mobility to Ann Arbor.”
Since autonomous shuttle company May Mobility began operations, it has launched shuttle services in Grand Rapids, Mich., Hiroshima, Japan, Arlington, Texas and is set to launch a new service in Indianapolis, Ind. in June. A2GO will be the company’s eighth shuttle deployment.
“The A2GO service requires the support of the community and strategic partners with common goals of making equitable and sustainable public transportation available,” reads a news release. “This unique service demonstrates how the mobility landscape is evolving, with partners representing transportation, safety, land use, and economic development. A primary example of how mobility can impact economic development and land use is 4M, Ann Arbor’s first co-living townhomes that offer co-working and mobility solutions to their members.”
Associate director of Mcity, Greg McGuire, said automated vehicle technology has great potential.
“We demonstrated that with the Mcity Driverless Shuttle research project that wrapped up in 2019,” McGuire said in a release. “Ultimately, however, the technology must be proven as the foundation for a valuable transportation service.
“A2GO takes Mcity down a path from academic research into a more public arena. We’re moving out of the lab into the living lab, if you will. And we’ll measure results in a way that more realistically reflects the potential of AV services to integrate smoothly with existing public transit systems, and make transportation more accessible to more people.”
!important Safety is a Montreal-based company that has housed its US Headquarters at Ann Arbor SPARK since 2019. The pedestrian safety company said the project will enable real-time development of its technology, which prevents collisions by communicating with nearby AV’s.
“Ann Arbor proves once again that it is a powerhouse for innovation with its mobility initiative known as A2GO, and !important is proud to be a part of it,” CEO of !important Bastien Beauchamp said in a release. “The city’s A2GO initiative brings safety to the highest level possible by integrating with our free, smartphone safety app for the people of Ann Arbor.”
The service is an example of Ann Arbor SPARK’s ability to connect companies and create partnerships to advance technologies and cooperation in the area.
“Connecting companies like May Mobility and !Important Safety is a way SPARK’s work advances our economy, ensuring that the technology our futures demands is being developed here in the Ann Arbor region,” Ann Arbor SPARK president and CEO Paul Krutko said in a release.
“The power of partnerships is evident in May Mobility and !Important Safety working together to improve the safety of autonomous vehicles, which is critical to ensuring pedestrian safety and consumer adoption of this emerging technology. It’s exciting that work being developed and tested in Ann Arbor has potential global impact.”