Self-Driving Vehicles to Bring Patients to Medical AppointmentsSelf-Driving Vehicles to Bring Patients to Medical Appointments
The service will go live next year and riders will be able to book the autonomous vehicles on demand via an app or phone
September 27, 2023
Autonomous vehicles will be used in California to try to reduce the number of medical appointment cancellations.
A pilot project is being launched by May Mobility and the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) that will see the Michigan-based self-driving tech firm’s autonomous on-demand microtransit service made available in the city of Martinez and the surrounding community in the Bay Area.
Lack of transportation is often cited as a reason for missed medical appointments and last year 21% of adults across the United States who have no access to a vehicle or public transit said they went without necessary medical care.
The new service aims to help some of the people affected in this way, although health care staff in the area will also have access to the AVs.
The program will see May Mobility AVs integrated into CCTA’s existing transportation network. The fleet of seven vehicles includes three wheelchair-accessible models that feature a wheelchair ramp and securement system approved by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
As is the case with other May Mobility U.S. operations, the California deployment will make use of Toyota Sienna Autono-Maas vehicles, which deliver their automated functionality thanks to lidar, radar and camera sensors, as well as May Mobility’s proprietary Multi-Policy Decision Making system.
Although the vehicles can drive themselves, a human supervisor will be on board at all times, as per the terms of the permit issued to May Mobility by the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
The service, operated in tandem with logistics specialist Via, will go live next year, with riders able to book the AVs on demand through the May Mobility app or by phone. Via’s booking and routing algorithms will pair up riders heading in similar directions into one AV for more efficient trips.
As well as providing rides to local medical facilities, organizers of the program say they intend to identify other routes and stops that will benefit the local community.
“Our on-demand, autonomous microtransit is a perfect solution to aid CCTA's efforts to improve health care outcomes and equity by helping patients get to and from their medical appointments on time,” said Manik Dhar, chief commercial officer for May Mobility. “This opportunity further proves that autonomous vehicle technology can fill the gaps in public transportation.”
Confirmation of the California deployment, May Mobility’s first in the state, follows the announcement of other new initiatives in recent months. In April it was confirmed the company would provide transit to an Arizona retirement community, and in August a partnership with Detroit City Council to provide shuttles for elderly residents was revealed.
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