Magna partners with May Mobility on self-driving shuttles
Ann Arbor, MI-based self-driving shuttle startup May Mobility is partnering with supplier heavyweight Magna to retrofit and scale up the former’s unique fleet of self-driving shuttles. This builds upon May Mobility’s first trial in October 2017 of its autonomous vehicles and business model in downtown Detroit. The first customer of its one-week-long pilot was Bedrock LLC, the real-estate-management group owned by local billionaire Dan Gilbert, Founder and Chairman of Quicken Loans.
“It was the first deployment of autonomous vehicles in the United States, that I'm aware of, where people didn't sign up for a pilot, were not employees of the company involved, didn't click the autonomous vehicle button, but [were] regular people going about their regular lives and found an autonomous vehicle in their path and ended up on one,” said Edwin Olson, CEO of May Mobility, in an exclusive interview with Autonomous Vehicle Technology magazine in January: “So public streets, real people, real riders.”
The Magna partnership is said to be an industry-first, with Magna retrofitting the low-speed self-driving micro transit electric vehicles. Magna will work on the vehicles in its Troy, MI, custom build center, with May Mobility engineers collaborating on the development from its Ann Arbor headquarters. The initial fleet of vehicles will debut in Detroit on June 26 for May Mobility’s first commercial deployment.
“Magna is pleased to work with a company like May Mobility to help support new mobility in city centers,” said Swamy Kotagiri, Magna Chief Technology Officer. “This project demonstrates our complete vehicle and technical expertise, which supports both existing automakers and new companies entering the automotive space.”
Starting with existing stock vehicles, the new partnership will create a number of self-driving electric shuttles designed by May Mobility and assembled by Magna that can scale in volume to hundreds, and eventually thousands of units as market demands increase. Inside the Magna facility, its team of experts is doing a full rebuild for May Mobility’s self-driving shuttle, including body modifications such as custom doors and a panoramic moonroof; drive-by-wire upfitting to convert the vehicles into an autonomous-ready state; and sensor integration including mounting, cabling, and streamlined cowlings. May Mobility will continue the process by adding its proprietary technology stack.
“Magna shares our high technical standards and excitement about servicing the growing demand for self-driving vehicles to meet today’s transportation needs…” said Steve Vozar, founder and CTO for May Mobility. “This deal demonstrates our commitment to scale and accelerate operations with a partner who understands quality and reliability in the build process, and who can match the exacting process that makes us a trusted community partner.”
May Mobility says its approach is distinct, partnering with developers, urban planners, and municipalities to understand their needs and design solutions and become a trusted autonomous vehicle partner. The company‘s mobility systems, using unique self-driving technology, are being deployed in the best early market—shuttles in urban cores.
The company’s founders bring expertise from the University of Michigan’s APRIL lab, MIT, the DARPA Urban Challenge, Ford, GM, GM Ventures, and Toyota to further self-driving mobility systems that reduce the need for individual car ownership, encourage better land use, and foster more livable communities.
The company intends to offer on-demand services by 2019 and expand its suite of vehicles and services based on customer demand.