TRAVERSE CITY – Six mobility and transportation startups were awarded more than $450,000 in PlanetM Mobility Grant funding at the Center for Automotive Research’s Management Briefing Seminars.
The six startups recognized by Governor Whitmer in remarks at the conference aim to address today’s toughest mobility and transportation challenges, including traffic congestion reduction and improved pedestrian and road safety. Propelmee, Aveopt, GoKid, Intvo, Aerotronic and AKTV8 are the third round recipients of PlanetM’s Mobility Grants.
“This third round of PlanetM Mobility Grant recipients are using collaboration, fresh thinking and creativity to push the boundaries of knowledge, technology and innovation in the mobility space within our state,” said Amanda Roraff, director of technology activations of PlanetM, the mobility-focused brand and business development program of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). “We’re thrilled to support these innovative solutions coming from such an energized mix of entrepreneurial talent, professionals, and students.
Meet Our Round Three Recipients:
Propelmee is a self-driving technology company founded in 2016, and headquartered in the UK. Propelmee has chosen Michigan as the first location outside of the UK, to expand its self-driving technology development and testing operations internationally, where they will demonstrate an industry-first approach to autonomous driving, without any dependency on prior 3D high definition mapping. Creating 3D high definition maps requires fleets of mapping vehicles to continually survey roads and collect terabytes of raw data, which needs to be painstakingly annotated. Propelmee’s technology allows self-driving cars to ‘arrive and drive’, without needing to manually create a detailed database of the 3D environment.
“We are proud to be expanding our autonomous driving operations internationally in partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and PlanetM, said Zain Khawaja, CEO and founder, Propelmee. “We chose Michigan as the ideal spot to demonstrate our technology on public roads because of the fantastic support from local government and forward-looking initiatives to promote the development of advanced mobility technologies. We especially look forward to tackling the challenging winter driving conditions on Michigan highways, and working towards developing new partnerships with the local automotive industry.”
Headquartered in Traverse City, Aveopt specializes in the development of software and system solutions focused on the emerging Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) market. Projected proliferation of these platforms integrating into controlled and uncontrolled airspace in support of various industries including commercial transport, infrastructure asset management and agriculture, creates a need for UAS Traffic Management (UTM) systems and UAS Service Suppliers (USS). Aveopt, teamed with Atlas Space Operations, the Michigan Department of Transportation, Consumers Energy and Michigan Technological University, will through the Michigan Unmanned Aerial System Consortium (MUASC) perform simulation tests and evaluations of its UTM Performance Arbitration System (UPAS) across wireless and satellite communications infrastructures.
“We are pleased PlanetM is undertaking efforts to help facilitate integrating UAS as the aerial component within Michigan’s mobility initiative, further solidifying and elevating Michigan’s leadership in mobility,” said Art Kahn, CEO of Aveopt. “UAS is widely envisioned to be a disruptive technology over the next 15-20 years, opening the door for significant growth opportunities across various mobility industries and technologies. We’re proud that the collaborative work of our team supported by PlanetM will further enable Michigan to be a leading contributor in bringing that vision to fruition.”
GoKid, an award-winning, venture-backed carpooling solution for schools, teams and families, is bringing its mobility solution to Michigan. GoKid aims to help improve school attendance, lower tardiness and reduce traffic and congestion in front of schools by introducing GoKid Connect, the school carpool solution at selected pilot schools for the 2019/2020 school year. An initial set of schools has been selected for the rollout; however, GoKid is making its solution available to all schools and districts throughout Michigan at a discounted rate as part of the grant program.
“GoKid is honored to receive the PlanetM Mobility Grant,” said GoKid CEO and cofounder, Stefanie Lemcke. “Having participated in the Techstars Mobility program in Detroit, we are especially proud that Michigan will add another milestone to the GoKid success story. When Michigan’s schools and communities save time, save money and have access to shared transportation through GoKid, we all win and the grant enables us to kick off a statewide implementation of our award-winning solution.”
Centered in Ann Arbor, Intvo develops software that detects and predicts pedestrian behavior, especially in high-risk scenarios, to ensure a safe environment for all road participants. Collaborating with the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), Intvo will initially begin deploying their technology on the streets of Ann Arbor, an ideal location for deployment given its high level of foot traffic.
UMTRI’s current technology is able to detect pedestrians in the crosswalk and broadcast a personal safety message to any DSRC-equipped vehicles near the crosswalk, alerting the driver to the presence of a pedestrian. Intvo’s software goes one layer deeper, enhancing these capabilities by enabling earlier detection and prediction, and more accurate warnings reducing false warnings to drivers.
“We are thrilled and grateful to be chosen as a PlanetM Mobility Grant recipient,” said Assam Alzookery, CEO and founder of Intvo. “At Intvo, we are striving to ensure a safe road environment and ease the lives of all individuals. Our smart vision software pushes the boundaries of autonomous technology in the existing market and enhances the robustness of the autonomous vehicle’s vision. Greater distractions, especially from digital technologies, are responsible for a recent rise in pedestrian casualties. This pilot would accelerate the widespread adoption of Intvo’s technology, which will improve the safety of an increasingly distracted world.”
Working in conjunction with DTE Energy, Aerotronic will be piloting a remote sensing technology solution that captures vegetation and pole top data for the utility industry, using Machine Learning to analyze remote sensing data and explore how integrating these insights eliminates business process inefficiencies. The goal is to eventually integrate the sensor package with Aerotronic’s drone for a truly autonomous operation.
“The state of Michigan has proven to be a wonderful launching pad for our product,” said Chris Chance, CEO of Aerotronic. “The PlanetM Landing Zone in downtown Detroit has provided us with multiple opportunities to connect with relevant folks to move the ball forward.”
AKTV8 specializes in control systems and components for electronically adjustable suspension to improve ride comfort, handling and safety. Alongside SAF-HOLLAND, AKTV8 will test a new generation electronic tire inflation system for Class-8 trailers in Western Michigan. The new system, called SMAR-te Tire Pilot, is a combination the SAF’s Tire Pilot Plus™ tire inflation system and AKTV8’s patented iAir™ control system. Unlike the mechanical systems today that can only increase tire pressure, the SMAR-te system will estimate the load of the trailer and electronically inflate and deflate all tires to optimize tire contact to the road. Network and Bluetooth connectivity enhance diagnostic data for fleet management while a warning light alerts the driver of tire leaks and potential overload conditions. The system is a first for the trailer industry that promises to improve tire life and fuel economy – improving vehicle uptime and heralding a new era of tire health management.
“AKTV8 is extremely excited to have been selected for the PlanetM mobility pilot,” said Josh Coombs, CTO and cofounder of AKTV8. “Electronic control of pneumatics and air suspension is a key enabler of autonomous vehicles and improved safety for commercial trucking. Tire Pilot SMAR-te is another example of AKTV8’s made-easy approach to electrifying traditional pneumatics.”
“The mobility challenges facing the industry today make it imperative that we engage the best innovative thinking, collaborations and creativity to find solutions. Our third round of grant recipients showcases our continued support of projects that have a meaningful impact in our communities, and that serve as a model for mobility startups and corporations globally,” said Roraff. “The funding provided to pilot programs and their partners for testing opportunities is a catalyst for these ideas to come to life, and the grants and public awareness help these companies connect directly with the state’s ideal ecosystem.”
Through PlanetM’s newest testing partner – the Michigan Unmanned Aerial Systems Consortium (MUASC) – the mobility industry now gains access to airspace at the Smithers Winter Test Center and Proving Grounds in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, allowing testing of integrated transportation systems and unmanned aerial systems. The addition of this facility expands testing opportunities from roadways to airspace, opening the door for possibilities including the development of a new class of emerging technologies and advances.
The next pilot grant application deadline is October 1. Testing grant applications are evaluated on a rolling basis. To apply or learn more, visit planetm.com/grants.