May Mobility and Via announce partnership to add robotaxis to transit services

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May Mobility, a pioneer in fixed-route autonomous vehicle technology has announced a partnership with Via, the leader in TransitTech, to extend its reach into on-demand mobility as it expands its shuttle operations to new cities in 2021. 

May Mobility and Via will launch a first-of-its-kind autonomous vehicle platform that integrates on-demand shared rides, public transportation, and transit options for passengers with accessibility needs all as part of one complete service offering.

May Mobility will adopt Via’s autonomous fleet platform to power booking, routing, passenger and vehicle assignment and identification, customer experience, and fleet management as part of their new transit solution for future autonomous vehicle deployments.

The long-term strategy involves integrating Via’s technology into May Mobility’s existing platform for autonomous vehicles – which currently operate with a safety driver ready to take the controls in the event of an emergency – and will support the May Mobility with the launch of complex and flexible use cases for self-driving vehicles, including on-demand, dynamically-routed shared transit services. 

The Vision

Integrated mobility solutions that include AVs are the key to expanding access to affordable, efficient, and equitable transportation in cities.

In order for self-driving vehicles to reach their full potential as part of large-scale transit networks, they must be on-demand, optimally routed, and shared by multiple passengers. Efficient utilization of self-driving vehicles will relieve congestion, improve environmental sustainability, and reduce operating costs for transit providers, while expanding transportation options for consumers.

May Mobility and Via both have a goal to provide a full-scale solution as municipalities, public transit authorities, universities, hospitals, and organizations seek to understand how autonomous vehicle transit systems can strengthen transit and inclusive mobility in communities across the United States. 

“Partnering with Via is the natural next step for May Mobility as we work to integrate our shuttle operations with existing public transportation in more cities in 2021,” says Edwin Olson, founder and CEO of May Mobility. “Offering on-demand service will help us make progress toward our vision of a world where self-driving systems increase the reliability of transportation, make roads safer and encourage better land use in order to foster more green, vibrant and livable spaces.”

“Our partnership with May Mobility is the next step in Via’s vision to use technology to expand access to public transit across the globe,” says Via CEO and co-founder Daniel Ramot. “When autonomous vehicles are efficiently shared and on-demand, they are a solution that municipalities can use to strengthen and complement their existing transit networks, ushering in a new generation of flexible mobility offerings.”

Execution

The partners will introduce their first service available to the public in Arlington, Texas, in partnership with the City of Arlington and University of Texas at Arlington. 

Supported by a US$1.7 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration’s Integrated Mobility Innovation Program to the City of Arlington, the partners will incorporate autonomous vehicles into Via’s existing on-demand public transit service in the city.

The one-year pilot program, called Arlington RAPID (Rideshare, Automation, and Payment Integration Demonstration), is expected to launch for the public in March 2021. The pilot will serve downtown Arlington and the University of Texas at Arlington campus, providing students and faculty with free rides during the test phase, all integrated into the same Via app currently used for on-demand public transit.

Beyond Arlington, the partners plan to expand access to full-scale autonomous transit networks in coordination and partnership with public transit systems in a number of locations across the US in 2021.

Experience

May Mobility is an Ann Arbor, Mich. based technology start-up that is focused on developing and deploying autonomous vehicle technology with the goal of offering safe, shared transportation solutions that will reduce the dependence on the use of individual vehicles, freeing up parking space in cities for parks, retail, and residential development. May Mobility is actively operating autonomous vehicle shuttles in Grand Rapids, Mich., and has provided more than 265,000 safe, AV rides for regular consumers since they started operating in 2018 – more than any other AV shuttles available today.

Via is a leading public mobility company with experience in software development that integrates with multiple AV platforms and providers to introduce shared, dynamically routed, on-demand transportation. Via has demonstrated its platform in Irvine, Calif. for “BotRide”, in partnerships with Navya and Aurrigo, and in its “BusBot” service in New South Wales, Australia. Via provides technology and operations that enable multimodal autonomous vehicle services, including public transit, private transit, pods, fixed line services, on-demand services, and taxis, and is building the infrastructure for autonomous vehicle providers to expand into low-cost, efficient multimodal transport. 

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About Author

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs in charge of public agencies around the world as well as chairmen and CEOs of multinational transportation technology corporations. Tom's early career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).