The Toyota Mobility Foundation yesterday announced that it is working with autonomous vehicle provider May Mobility Inc., as well as the Energy Systems Network and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, to launch a free autonomous shuttle service in Central Indiana.
“At May Mobility, our mission is to bring safe, accessible, and reliable mobility solutions to communities around the world,” said Edwin Olson, co-founder and CEO of May Mobility. “We're excited to bring AV [autonomous vehicle] technology to Central Indiana through our partnership with the Toyota Mobility Foundation, Energy Systems Network, and IndyGo.”
Ann Arbor, Mich.-based May Mobility combines a variety of sensors, its Multi-Policy Decision-Making (MPDM) system, and drive-by-wire and autonomy stack for autonomous shuttles. The company said it has completed more than 275,000 rides to date.
May Mobility enables self-driving shuttle rides
The free service is part of Toyota Mobility Foundation's Together in Motion Indiana initiative, which brings stakeholders together to test the interoperability of mobility innovations and facilitate the efficient movement of people and goods. It also supports the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Sustainable Cities and Communities goal (No. 11) and Toyota's commitment to “providing mobility for all.”
The autonomous shuttle service began on June 1 and serves the downtown Indianapolis and Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) communities. It operates Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and will run through Nov. 19, 2021. The service is available to the public and features five Lexus RX 450h vehicles and one wheelchair-accessible Polaris GEM shuttle equipped with May Mobility's autonomous technology.
There are nine designated stops in Indianapolis, each identifiable by a sign providing route information and a scannable QR code leading to the Together in Motion Indiana website. Through the QR code, riders can learn more about May Mobility technology and the shuttle route. Shuttles arrive in 10- to 15-minute intervals on a rotating loop.
The route was designed to increase mobility options by providing a connection from the Vermont Station—along IndyGo's Red Line —to areas west of downtown. In addition, the route circles the IU Health University Hospital and the Riley Hospital for Children campuses. Riders can plan their trips on Google Maps and see live updates of a shuttle's location.
“IndyGo exists to connect our community to economic and cultural opportunities through safe, reliable and accessible mobility experiences,” said Lesley Gordon, vice president of communications and marketing at IndyGo. “We will continue to lend our knowledge and expertise with the team at May Mobility and to work alongside these industry leaders as they seek to improve Central Indiana's mobility ecosystem.”
To ensure riders' health and safety, masks are currently required for all passengers and fleet attendants. Shuttles will carry only one household per ride, and all shuttles are equipped with partitions and UVC disinfectant lights that will clean the shuttle interior between rides.
In the next phase of the initiative, May Mobility will operate an AV shuttle route in Fishers, Indiana. This service is slated to begin in November 2021.
Together in Motion
The Toyota Mobility Foundation (TMF) and the Energy Systems Network (ESN) announced the Together in Motion Indiana initiative earlier this year. Toyota Motor Corp. established the TMF in 2014 to help create systems that eliminate disparities in mobility. It works with universities, governments, nonprofit groups, research institutions, and other organizations.
The ESN an Indianapolis-based nonprofit focused on the development of the advanced energy technology and transportation sectors. Over the past decade, ESN has collaborated with a range of partners to deliver sustainable energy and mobility solutions, including electric car sharing, vehicle-to-smart grid communications, and mobility as a service.
The Together in Motion Indiana initiative aims to foster innovation through industry partnerships and propel research and development in Indiana. The partners said the initiative is intended to better serve the transportation needs of local communities, to understand the changing ecosystems surrounding those needs, and to facilitate the commercialization of cooperative options.
“Indiana is the ideal location to launch the first Together in Motion initiative because of the strong local partnerships with Energy Systems Network and the local communities,” said Ryan Klem, director of programs at the TMF. “They have facilitated May Mobility's integration into the local transportation offerings, and we look forward to learning about local use and impact so we can transfer and scale this knowledge to other locations.”
Before opening the shuttle service to the public, May Mobility provided Indianapolis residents and Indy 500 race week guests free 10-minute-long rides along a special demonstration route near the Indiana Statehouse. More than 60 attendees experienced the autonomous shuttle service.
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