It’s a go: Autonomous shuttle service to launch Oct. 11 in Ann Arbor

A2GO will offer free rides around city

The free A2GO autonomous shuttle service will kick off on Oct. 11. (A2GO)

ANN ARBOR – The new A2GO autonomous shuttle service has released its official start date.

The service, launched in partnership with May Mobility, Mcity and Ann Arbor SPARK, will begin offering free rides to the Ann Arbor community on Monday, Oct. 11.

Additional partners on the project include 4M, !important Safety Technologies, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification.

May Mobility will operate A2GO’s fleet of five autonomous vehicles, including four hybrid-electric Lexus RX 450h vehicles and one Polaris GEM fully electric vehicle, which is equipped to accommodate one wheelchair passenger.

The on-demand, rideshare program will operate in a service area of 2.64 square miles, covering Kerrytown, downtown, the State Street corridor, the University of Michigan’s central and south campuses and Pulse Campus.

The service will operate Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Riders can request service via May Mobility’s app.

A2GO's fleet consists of four hybrid-electric Lexus RX 450h vehicles. (A2GO)

“From the talented workforce to the proximity of strong private and municipal partnerships, Ann Arbor has played a critical role in May Mobility’s success,” Edwin Olson, CEO of May Mobility, said in a statement. “We are proud to bring our autonomous shuttle service to not just our hometown, but the place where our technology was born.”

May Mobility plans to hire up to 20 autonomous vehicle operators as A2GO gets underway. Additionally, May Mobility will be hosting an official launch event on Oct. 12 with demos of its autonomous technology to the local community.

May Mobility has seven other shuttle deployments in operation in Michigan and around the world, including in Grand Rapids, Arlington, Texas, Indianapolis, Indiana and Hiroshima, Japan.

“The deployment of A2GO exemplifies Michigan’s leadership and innovation in public-private partnerships to facilitate long lasting change within our mobility ecosystem,” Trevor Pawl, Michigan’s Chief Mobility Officer, said in a statement. “We are excited to see the results of this pilot in the Ann Arbor community, as well as the next-generation solutions the team at May Mobility continues to bring to the state of Michigan.”

The project will also act as a living lab, testing how the autonomous technology reacts with the world around it in real time.

“Mcity is excited to be a partner in bringing A2GO to Ann Arbor,” Greg McGuire, associate director at Mcity, said in a statement. “If we want to build the safer, greener, more accessible world we’re all striving for, learning by doing is essential. A2GO takes Mcity from an academic lab to a living lab, and will help us learn what we should be thinking about next.”

The A2GO service is more than a rideshare service -- it’s a broadening of Ann Arbor’s mobility landscape, demonstrated by its partnership with the city’s first co-living and co-working community 4M.

4M offers its members mobility, living and working solutions and soon plans to open a multi-use events space steps away from its southside campus.

4M’s site hosts all of A2GO’s site operations, including onsite staff and garage parking for the autonomous shuttles.

“Our partnership with May Mobility and the other A2GO team members is critical to our evaluation of future value-based housing and lifestyle solutions and our planning for upcoming real estate projects and developments,” Margaret Poscher, CEO at Prentice4M, said in a statement.

Montreal-based !important Safety Technologies, whose US headquarters are located in Ann Arbor, will use A2GO to build on its pedestrian safety technology.

“!important is pleased to join the A2GO project as an opportunity to innovate with the population of Ann Arbor,” Bastien Beauchamp, CEO of !important Safety Technologies, said in a statement. “For the first time, the public will have a direct input in the detection from an autonomous vehicle via our Free Mobile App. The anonymous data collected will help the city identify the weak and less safe zones in order to better plan infrastructures.”

This will be the first autonomous vehicle shuttle service deployed in downtown Ann Arbor, and helps to further position the city as an innovation destination -- a key mission of Ann Arbor SPARK.

“Ann Arbor SPARK’s mission is to identify what businesses in our community need to grow, and with May Mobility, it was access to an urban living lab where it could test, advance, and deploy its technology,” Paul Krutko, president and CEO of Ann Arbor SPARK, said in a statement. “It’s exciting to see A2GO launch and know that autonomous vehicle innovation isn’t just being developed here, but also enthusiastically welcomed as part of our region’s mobility infrastructure.

“Having leading edge technology on the streets in Ann Arbor is a signal that companies pushing towards what’s next will push forward here.”

About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.