Companies awarded $280,000 to deliver innovative solutions to Michigan’s mobility challenges

Initiatives focused on autonomous delivery systems, disinfecting services, protective barriers for transit workers


The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)’s PlanetM initiative is awarding more than $280,000 in technology innovation grants to companies developing solutions to mobility challenges related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

MORE: Coronavirus in Michigan: Here’s where we stand Tuesday morning

Officials say the grants will support five companies that are developing “contactless automated delivery within the statewide retail supply chain, disinfecting technologies in West Michigan and barriers to protect transit workers in Detroit.”

The following companies and initiatives have been awarded technology innovation grants:

Gatik -- $100,000

The California-based autonomous delivery company is working with a large retailer to deploy autonomous delivery vehicles in Michigan. The contactless delivery method will be used in Grand Rapids and Rochester and is meant to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Officials say the program will also create new jobs for Michiganders.

GHSP -- $80,000

GHSP is a Michigan-based auto supplier that has developed technology to disinfect emergency service vehicles using UV-C light to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other germs among frontline workers. The grēnlite™ system sense when people are in a shared vehicle space and then disinfects the air and high-touch surfaces when they exit the vehicle.

Pratt Miller -- $50,000

Pratt Miller, an engineering and product development company, developed a disinfecting robot that will be deployed at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Large area autonomous Disinfecting robot (LaaD) is designed to spray “FDA-approved disinfecting materials” into that air that will adhere to surfaces for “maximum virus protection,” officials said.

Officials say LaaD will begin roaming the airport in June.

Penske Vehicle Services -- $28,000

The Troy-based vehicle services company is developing temporary barriers to increase physical separation between front seat drivers and back seat passengers. The clear vinyl partitions will serve as a “comfort buffer” and will not entirely separate the front and back seats of a vehicle, officials said.

Officials say the partitions will be introduced with a leading ride-sharing service.

RCO Engineering -- $28,000

Like Penske Vehicle Services, the Michigan-based RCO Engineering will also develop temporary partitions to separate front seat drivers from back seat passengers. Officials say the city of Detroit will provide vehicles that will be installed with the barriers.

“The resiliency and innovation that these companies are displaying in the face of this global pandemic will make a significant difference as our industry comes together to fight this virus,” said Charlie Tyson, technology activation manager at PlanetM. “We look forward to demonstrating the power of Michigan’s public private partnerships in supporting the state’s need for safe mobility solutions during this unprecedented public health crisis.”

Learn more about MDEC’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic here.


About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.