Arizona autonomous public transport targets elderly

  • May 15, 2023
  • Steve Rogerson

Michigan-based May Mobility has launched an on-demand autonomous public transport service for older residents in Arizona.

May Mobility develops and deploys autonomous vehicle (AV) technology. It has launched the first on-demand public transit service using AVs in Arizona for the retirement community of Sun City. The service will be powered by Via, a New York-based specialist in transit technology.

The goal of the deployment is to use AVs to expand access to safe, reliable and equitable on-demand transportation to Sun City, a community designed for adults aged 55 and older. The company also aims to understand how its technology is adopted and addresses mobility challenges faced by aging adults.

This launch marks May Mobility’s first deployment in western USA and underscores Arizona’s reputation as a testing ground and pioneer for AV technologies. May Mobility has a history seeking out diverse deployment environments to test and improve its proprietary multi-policy decision making (MPDM) technology. Previous deployments span from the northeast to the midwest to the south, in climates ranging from the humid, subtropical climate in Arlington, Texas, to the frigid winters in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

“We’re fundamentally changing public transit, making it easier and more desirable than having a personal car,” said Edwin Olson, CEO for May Mobility. “People are living longer, and we believe that aging populations stand to gain greater access to mobility with autonomous vehicle technology. We’re committed to providing safe, reliable transportation for people who don’t want to or can’t drive themselves.”

May Mobility and Via believe aging populations stand to gain increased freedom and mobility from AVs, and are dedicated to engaging, serving and educating these communities to drive adoption of innovative technologies.

“Via is proud to partner with May Mobility to introduce dynamically-routed, shared AVs to Arizona for the first time,” said Meghan Grela, autonomous lead at Via. “Our organisations are united by the vision that advanced technology is key to expanding access to efficient mobility for riders of all ages and needs, and we believe Sun City is a model for innovative, inclusive public transportation for other communities around the world.”

May Mobility and Via’s expertise operating in a mix of urban, suburban and rural areas prepared them to optimise service for Sun City. The service will operate Monday to Friday from 7am to 5pm through resident complexes, recreation centres, grocery stores, pharmacies and medical centres. Looking ahead, May Mobility believes the deployment will provide insights on how technology is adopted and can address mobility challenges faced by aging adults.

May Mobility was established in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 2017. Its proprietary MPDM system is at the core of its mission to help make cities safer, greener and more accessible. MPDM’s track record has delivered more than 300,000 autonomy-enabled rides to date in several public transit applications across the USA and Japan.

Founded in 2012, Via uses technologies to develop public mobility systems, optimising networks of buses, shuttles, wheelchair accessible vehicles, school buses, autonomous vehicles and electric vehicles around the globe. The company combines software with service design and operational expertise to improve the way the world moves, providing technology in 600 communities and more than 35 countries.