Self-Driving Shuttle for Elderly, Disabled Residents Launches in Detroit

May Mobility is launching new services offering free rides starting June 20

Graham Hope

June 12, 2024

3 Min Read
May Mobility's self-driving shuttle.
May Mobility

Autonomous vehicle company May Mobility has confirmed the launch of a new shuttle service designed to help vulnerable residents of Detroit.

The Detroit Automated Driving Systems pilot will provide free rides to select locals aged 65 and older, or who live with disabilities and operate in an area that encompasses 11 square miles of downtown.

It is being run in partnership with the city of Detroit’s Office of Mobility Innovation and the Michigan Mobility Collective and follows the signing of a $2.4 million deal between the local authority and the Ann Arbor-based company last year.

The Accessibili-D service aims to make it easier for people to access healthcare facilities, take part in social and recreational activities, attend jobs or even just visit shopping centers and will make use of three Toyota Sienna Autono-MaaS vehicles, two of which can accommodate wheelchairs.

Accessibili-D gets up and running on June 20, and initially will operate across 68 stops six days a week – on Mondays and Wednesdays to Fridays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on weekends from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Ultimately, the hope is the service can be expanded with wider coverage, additional stops and extra vehicles over the coming months.

Potential users who feel they might benefit from the service are being invited to express their interest. Once accepted and enrolled, they will be able to book rides via an app or call center.

Related:May Mobility Launches Self-Driving Shuttles for Elderly, Disabled Detroiters

The AVs will use May Mobility’s Multi-Policy Decision Making (MPDM) technology to navigate downtown Detroit, although human safety monitors will be behind the wheel to oversee operations and provide customer service.

Each is equipped with a suite of lidar and radar sensors, plus cameras, which provide a 360-degree view of its surroundings. Using this data, the tech can virtually simulate thousands of possible scenarios every second, allowing it to decide on the best and safest maneuvers.

Before this deployment, the AVs were extensively assessed at the University of Michigan’s Mcity facility and the American Center for Mobility (ACM) in Ypsilanti, where they underwent a Driver’s License Test and Driving Intelligence Test, plus experienced simulated scenarios similar to what they are likely to encounter in Detroit.

Edwin Olson, CEO and co-founder of May Mobility, hailed the launch of Accessibili-D, which is due to run until 2026, saying: “There are many Detroiters who are left without reliable transportation due to a lack of vehicle ownership, difficult access to a nearby public transit option or not meeting paratransit eligibility requirements.

Related:Bad Driving Used to Test Driverless Cars

“There’s a great social purpose to be served here, and our AV service saves money for the municipality while getting an underserved population where they need to go safely and efficiently.”

Detroit marks May Mobility’s 14th deployment to date. Previous AV services launched include at a retirement community in Arizona and in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

About the Author(s)

Graham Hope

Graham Hope has worked in automotive journalism in the U.K. for 26 years, including spells as editor of leading consumer news website and weekly Auto Express and respected buying guide CarBuyer.

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