Toyota Invests $50 million in Autonomous Shuttle Startup May Mobility
In December 2019, Toyota announced that it will lead a $50 million investment and partnership with May Mobility, a Michigan-based autonomous shuttle start-up.
May Mobility was founded on the premise of discovering innovative solutions to issues caused by population growth, urban density, and immobility. They are the early leaders in autonomous transportation, operating autonomous shuttles services in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Providence, and Rhode Island. It operates a fleet of 25 autonomous electric shuttles, and has provided over 170,000 revenue-generating rides. Continuously innovating and learning about driver’s needs, they are pioneering futuristic technological solutions to advance mobility.
May Mobility currently contracts with cities, transit agencies, and corporations to provide short trips on fixed routes in dense urban areas. For instance, they provide self-driving shuttles for Bedrock LLC, the real estate company owned by billionaire Dan Gilbert, by carrying people from its parking garage to offices almost one mile out along the loop that it runs.
Though Toyota and May Mobility have not announced the details of their partnership, it is likely that May’s autonomous vehicle technology will be paired with the Toyota e-Palette to assist in identifying market opportunities. The e-Palettes was unveiled in 2018 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and is described as a “fully-automated, next generation battery electric vehicle[s] designed to be scalable and customizable for a range of Mobility as a Service businesses.” They are envisaged to solve a variety of functions, including ride-sharing and carpooling, mobile office and retail spaces, and medical clinics.
Toyota is hoping to debut the e-Palette at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.