Detroit becomes first US city to deploy independent AVs on public roads in an urban core

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Ann Arbor-based self-driving vehicle startup May Mobility, in partnership with real estate company Bedrock, has announced the first commercial deployment of independent autonomous vehicles (AVs) on public streets in any urban core in the USA.

The partnership will immediately embed self-driving shuttles into the daily fabric of downtown Detroit, and begin transporting passengers today (June 27). Under the partnership, May Mobility will provide a fleet of electric AVs to Bedrock, which will transport Quicken Loans and its Family of Companies’ close to 18,000 employees between their offices, parking sites, events and other downtown destinations, beginning with a one-mile loop connecting the Bricktown Parking Garage to the One Campus Martius and First National Buildings in the heart of downtown Detroit.

At launch, May Mobility will have attendants in vehicles to help orient first-time riders and to monitor the AVs. The company will offer on-demand services and expand its suite of vehicles and services in 2019.

May Mobility maps, tests and adds environmental sensors to routes block-by-block, which delivers a unique approach to autonomous transportation. This helps solve parking, traffic and land management issues for municipalities, developers, and business customers across the country.

The vehicles are deployed among other cars, cyclists and pedestrians, making self-driving vehicles a normal part of everyday life. As a result, May Mobility gathers invaluable data from vehicles, riders, business and community partners, which is crucial in helping expand services to additional roads and highways in the future.

As part of its expansion, May Mobility has opened an office in Detroit that will provide full-time operational support for the Bedrock Bricktown route, store and charge the shuttles, and coordinate future route expansion.

“Our partnership with Bedrock shows that our self-driving vehicles can help address today’s most difficult transportation problems,” said Edwin Olson, CEO and co-founder of May Mobility. “Our technology allows us to provide fully-managed transportation services that outperform traditional services on wait time, rider satisfaction, and other metrics.

“By improving the lives of Bedrock’s employees and tenants, we move closer to our vision that everyone uses us every day. As a Michigan-based company, we are proud that our shuttles are solving transportation problems faced by everyday workers. Self-driving technology will transform cities, improving the lives of everyday people, driving commerce, and helping to create new green spaces by reducing the need for parking.”

Jim Ketai, CEO of Bedrock, commented, “As a company dedicated to advancing mobility for a more livable, walkable and accessible community, Michigan-grown May Mobility made the ideal partner to further this mission. These autonomous vehicles will allow us to lead the nation in providing memorable and efficient transportation methods for our residential, office and retail tenants.”

Jay Farner, CEO of Quicken Loans, added, “Detroit is at the forefront of technology and innovation, which is why it makes perfect sense for the first fully autonomous shuttle route to launch in our city.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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