Ann Arbor-based May Mobility Upgrades C-suite Standalone Platform
The long-awaited launch of May Mobility in its hometown is another chance to establish itself in the southeast of the state. Its deal with Bedrock in Detroit was dissolved when employees evacuated downtown due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now that some are returning, there may be an opportunity to revisit the Bedrock partnership or establish more in the city, Olson said.
The Ann Arbor service, nicknamed A2GO, is funded by Michigan Economic Development Corp., which provided a grant of $ 142,000, along with Mcity of UM, real estate developer 4M and economic development agency Ann Arbor Spark, who served as the project coordinator.
During the one-year pilot project, May Mobility will operate on-demand shared shuttles along the downtown 2.6 square mile service area. Travel is free for the public via the May Mobility mobile application. Each shuttle in Ann Arbor and across the company’s fleet is staffed with a security driver. Olson said that even though the software has improved, shuttles are still unsafe for being driverless in certain scenarios, including in the rain.
Heidi Poscher, founding partner of 4M, said she is contributing a six-figure investment in the project and funding the construction of a shuttle stop outside of her new development concept in Ann Arbor – a building of ‘shared’ apartments with 63 beds and a coworking campus. The service fits perfectly with the real estate company’s vision of a “15 minute” neighborhood where daily needs are easily accessible, she said.
“The opportunity for May is to extend her route to the southern part of town,” Poscher said. “I think it’s really beneficial for May to collect data in a heavily residential area.”
Deployments to Ann Arbor and elsewhere appear to be as much a way of learning how to make money from service as an exercise in improving technology.
“Mcity’s involvement in A2GO is about data collection,” said Susan Carney, spokesperson for Mcity, who has contributed $ 200,000 to the service. “We will be instrumenting certain intersections along the route and collecting naturalistic driving data. The naturalistic data is captured from vehicles operating in real conditions.”
May Mobility’s operating model varies by location. In Arlington, the company contracts with the city and its rides are offered through Via, a mobile app that connects passengers to shared rides in the city. For now, the shuttles in Arlington are the only ones charging passengers. The cost is $ 3 per trip, although University of Texas Arlington students have a limited number of free rides.
Olson said the company is forging new partnerships and is set to announce new launch sites.
“We are always very motivated by the transport problems that cities face,” he said.