May Mobility’s Automated Light Public Transportation Could Reach Profitability Faster than Robotaxis

Autonomous vehicle company May Mobility has launched its first driverless on-demand microtransit service on public roads in Sun City, Arizona in partnership with transit tech company Via. May’s strategy of integrating its autonomous microtransit service into existing public transit, in partnership with cities, has also laid the groundwork for future, more challenging deployments. More recently, May launched an on-demand service in Grand Rapids, Michigan in partnership with Via. Beep operates autonomous shuttles for resident transportation in the Lake Nona community in Florida and for public transportation in Peachtree Corners, Georgia. Riders can book the on-demand ride-hail service through May Mobility’s app, available in Google Play and the Apple App Store.

Autonomous Vehicle Startup May Mobility Brings Driverless On-Demand Microtransit Service to Sun City, Arizona

“We’re excited to introduce our rider-only operations in Sun City and pave the way for future deployments.” – Nina Grooms Lee, COO of May Mobility

May Mobility, a leader in autonomous mobility solutions, has launched its first driverless microtransit service on public roads in Sun City, Arizona. In partnership with transit technology company Via, May Mobility has achieved a significant milestone in its goal to provide rider-only operations by 2023. The successful launch in Sun City highlights the effectiveness of May Mobility’s gradual approach to commercializing autonomy.

A planned community for active, retired adults, Sun City may not have the same appeal as bustling urban cities, but it has proven to be the perfect testing ground for May Mobility’s driverless microtransit service. While other companies are focused on flashy launches in major cities, May Mobility has chosen a more gradual and cautious approach to expand its services and avoid any potential issues.

May Mobility’s strategy of working with cities to integrate its autonomous microtransit service into existing public transit systems has not only helped them expand smoothly, but also lays the groundwork for future, more challenging deployments. In fact, according to Carlos Cruz-Casas, Chief Innovation Officer at Miami-Dade County’s Department of Public Works, May Mobility is set to launch an on-demand shuttle service in Miami in partnership with Via. While no confirmation has been received from May Mobility or Via at the time, this partnership marks another significant step towards May Mobility’s goal of widespread rider-only operations.

It’s worth noting that one of May Mobility’s competitors, Cruise, had to halt its driverless robotaxi operations in Miami after a pedestrian incident in October. This serves as a reminder of the importance of proceeding carefully and responsibly with autonomous technology. In contrast, May Mobility’s gradual approach has allowed them to successfully expand without any major drama or safety concerns.

The Rise of Controlled, Low-Speed Shuttles and On-Demand Services

Risk management consultant Steve Miller, from the Insurance Office of America, believes that controlled, low-speed shuttles and on-demand services, like those offered by May Mobility and competitor Beep, are the future of autonomous mobility. Beep currently operates autonomous shuttles for resident transportation in the Lake Nona community in Florida and public transportation in Peachtree Corners, Georgia. They also provide shuttle services for guests in Disney’s Celebration and Wilderness Lodge resorts.

“What we’re seeing now as we talk about commercial deployment is the industry is really focused on trucking or shuttling, like a Beep or May Mobility-type shuttle. And the reason that those two are leading the charge is they both have the benefit of being in defined operating domains. They’re in controlled environments. What makes robotaxis difficult is there are any number of edge cases that can’t at this point be modeled.” – Steven Miller

The highly regulated and controlled operating environments of shuttle services make them more appealing for commercial deployment. In comparison, developing advanced driver assistance software for OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) can be more challenging due to the various unpredictable scenarios that cannot be replicated in a testing environment. However, Miller adds that May Mobility’s Multi-Policy Decision Making system, which runs real-time, on-board simulations to analyze potential scenarios and choose the safest course of action, is well-equipped to handle edge cases.

Miller also notes that the current fundraising climate incentivizes companies to focus on sustainability and profitability around their core business, rather than chasing lofty, unrealistic goals. In November 2020, May Mobility raised $105 million in funding, bringing its total funding to $300 million.

With an abundance of opportunities to partner with cities, airports, and other transit hubs, Miller predicts that shuttle-type operations will continue to thrive and be a highly lucrative venture for AV startups.

Sun City Driverless Launch

May Mobility’s first rider-only service in Sun City will initially be available to a select group of early riders, giving them the chance to request a pickup in one of the company’s state-of-the-art Autono-MaaS minivans from various designated stops. Operating on public roads from Monday to Friday between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., the free service is a pivotal moment for May Mobility and marks another step towards their goal of widespread rider-only operations.

How to Book a Ride with May Mobility

To book a ride, residents can download May Mobility’s app from the Google Play store or the Apple App Store. Interested individuals can also apply online to become an early rider and experience the cutting-edge technology firsthand.

As May Mobility continues to prioritize safety, gather rider feedback, and establish trust within the community, expansion plans for their services in Sun City will be made in the near future.

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Zara Khan

Zara Khan is a seasoned investigative journalist with a focus on social justice issues. She has won numerous awards for her groundbreaking reporting and has a reputation for fearlessly exposing wrongdoing.

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