Driverless Shuttle Company Raises $194M
Michigan-based self-driving shuttle and ride-hailing specialist May Mobility has announced a $111 million series C round of funding that is expected to allow driverless operations next year.
The company, which is headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, currently operates autonomous vehicles (AVs) to complement the public transport system in its home city, as well as in Arlington, Texas and has also offered services in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Fishers and Indianapolis, Indiana and Hiroshima, Japan.
An initial closing of the series C funding, worth $83 million, was announced by May Mobility in January, with investors including Toyota Ventures and BMW iVentures. Now Chinese automaker SAIC and Japan’s SoftBank are among those to join the round, bringing the total funding raised to $194 million.
The injection is expected to be used to increase the numbers in May Mobility’s engineering team, expand its global customer base and further invest in technology.
“With the close of this latest investment round, May Mobility will continue to accelerate growth in our technology, business development and platforms, all with a global reach,” said May Mobility’s CEO Edwin Olson. “Our additional investors, as well as our continued strategic collaboration with Toyota and others, will enable us to march toward driver-out commercial operations in 2023 and enable our expansion into new markets.”
May Mobility has worked closely with Toyota to date, testing its Autonomous Driving Kit (ADK) on the automaker’s Sienna Autono-MaaS vehicles, mainly in Ann Arbor. The company says it will continue to pursue its deployment programs using the Sienna Autono-MaaS.
But it has also now confirmed it has started initial development work on incorporating the ADK on to Toyota’s e-Palette battery-electric vehicle platform.
The e-Palette is described by Toyota as a “customizable multi-passenger, multifunctional vehicle that can be made into anything” and offers even greater potential than the Sienna for more efficient transportation thanks to its increased rider capacity.
“We are already seeing the benefits of using Toyota’s Sienna Autono-MaaS vehicle platform as it was designed from the ground up to interface with computers, and we look forward to future discussions on the use of Toyota’s e-Palette as an exciting opportunity to set new milestones as we transform mobility with an autonomous, electric vehicle platform,” Olson said. “This platform, coupled with our technology, has the power and capability to accelerate the future of mobility.”
Although May Mobility hinted at expanding its global reach, no specifics were given as to what markets it might be looking at. But evidence of its international ambitions came in June when it confirmed a partnership with SoftBank aimed at accelerating the introduction of autonomous driving in Japan.