Self-driving shuttle service launched in Ann Arbor
ANN ARBOR, MI – Ann Arbor residents will soon be able to drive self-driving vehicles.
A2GO – a partnership between May Mobility, MCity and Ann Arbor SPARK, among others – will launch an autonomous shuttle service for the public on Monday, October 11th.
The free service will be available to move people between Kerrytown, downtown Ann Arbor, and the University of Michigan’s central and southern campuses, and will be offered Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Allison Hegarty, May Mobility’s customer success manager for operations in Ann Arbor, said the service is aimed at students and commuters.
“It will be interesting to see what those peak hours will be in Ann Arbor,” said Hegarty.
May Mobility has similar missions in Grand Rapids; Indianapolis, Indiana; Arlington, Texas; and Hiroshima, Japan. The service was previously available in Detroit as well, but was terminated as a result of the pandemic.
Four Mobility vehicles will be in circulation at the same time in May, with one wheelchair-accessible vehicle available on request.
Although the vehicles are autonomous, each car has an operator behind the wheel who monitors the journey and intervenes if necessary, for example in bad weather.
“We absolutely hope to be completely autonomous … when that will come I’m not sure,” said Hegarty.
The cars are each equipped with seven cameras, five radars, and five lidars that are similar to radar but use lasers, according to Amanda Kline, Field Autonomy Engineer at May Mobility.
“It all starts with all of our sensors,” says Kline.
With the help of these sensors, the cars record data in order to identify objects such as pedestrians or other vehicles and to understand the typical behavior of these objects. The car will then “think a bit into the future” to decide how it reacts to external stimuli, said Kline.
According to Kline, the cars are “nervous” drivers, so safety comes first. Sometimes they make decisions “a little different from what a human will do, but still safe,” she added.
“Our shuttles always think about safety first,” said Kline.
The shuttle does not go from door to door, but from corner to corner and has around 20 different stops throughout the service area.
To use the shuttle, residents of the region can download the May Mobility phone app, which is also free, and use it to select their desired location. The app then gives directions to the next stop.
May Mobility is headquartered in Ann Arbor.
“They are very excited to have a location in our backyard,” said Kline of his staff.
The shuttle starts for the public on October 11th and is available Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
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