ANN ARBOR – A new autonomous vehicle shuttle service is coming to Ann Arbor in October courtesy A2GO, a joint venture with Ann Arbor SPARK, May Mobility and MCity.
The new shuttle service comes from a grant through the mobility efforts of the state of Michigan. Additional partners on A2GO include !important Safety Technologies, 4M, Office of Future Mobility and Electrification and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
“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,” said Edwin Olson, founder and CEO of May Mobility.
May Mobility will operate a fleet of five autonomous, shared, on-demand vehicles as part of the A2GO deployment. Four hybrid-electric Lexus RX 450h vehicles (with three passenger capacity) and one Polaris GEM fully electric vehicle (with capacity for one wheelchair passenger) will operate in a service area that connects Kerrytown, the University of Michigan campus and the State Street corridor. To use A2GO, the free May Mobility app will be available closer to the launch date.
“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,” said Trevor Pawl, Chief Mobility Officer for the state of Michigan. “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.”
A2GO is May Mobility’s eighth shuttle deployment since the company began operations. May Mobility is currently operating shuttles in Grand Rapids, Mich., Arlington, Texas, and Hiroshima, Japan, and will be launching in Indianapolis, Ind. at the beginning of June.
The A2GO service requires the support of the community and strategic partners with common goals of making equitable and sustainable public transportation available. 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.
“4M invested in this important partnership because we believe new mobility solutions, especially those that provide the opportunity for transportation equity, are critically important for next generation community building and sustainability,” said Margaret Poscher, 4M Managing Partner.
Leveraging AV transportation solutions in programs such as A2GO will allow for the further refinement of the technology and lead to greater adoption by the public.
“Automated vehicle technology has great potential,” said Greg McGuire, associate director, Mcity at the University of Michigan. “We demonstrated that with the Mcity Driverless Shuttle research project that wrapped up in 2019. 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.”
This project also engages !important Safety, a Montreal-based company that opened their US Headquarters at Ann Arbor SPARK in 2019. This project provides an opportunity to advance development of their pedestrian safety technology, which communicates with nearby AV’s to prevent collisions.
“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,” said Bastien Beauchamp, CEO of !important. “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 A2GO service is another example of Ann Arbor SPARK’s work in furthering the community’s place as a mobility leader.
“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,” said Paul Krutko, Ann Arbor SPARK president and CEO. “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.”