Fishers starts free public autonomous shuttle

  • December 13, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

The city of Fishers in Indiana is starting a free, public autonomous shuttle service from next week.

The service for the Nickel Plate cultural district is the result of a collaboration between the Toyota Mobility Foundation, Energy Systems Network (ESN), Indiana Economic Development Corporation  and May Mobility, a specialist in autonomous vehicle (AV) technology and shuttle operations.

The AV shuttle service is part of the Together in Motion Indiana initiative announced earlier this year by Toyota and ESN that previously provided a similar autonomous shuttle service in downtown Indianapolis for six months.

May Mobility will manage a fleet of autonomous, shared vehicles that will operate along a 5km fixed-route loop with nine designated stops to service the live, work and play districts of downtown Fishers. The hop-on, hop-off service connects the residential area at Pullman Pointe and South Pointe Village apartments to the commercial district along Commercial Drive and Fishers Corner Boulevard, Municipal Drive and 116th Street, including a stop along the new Nickel Plate Trail.

Each route stop is identifiable by a sign with route information and a QR code with more information about May Mobility’s technology.

“With the launch in Fishers, we’ll be adding a new public transportation service in a community that primarily relies on personal vehicle ownership,” said Edwin Olson, CEO of May Mobility. “This is an amazing opportunity to partner with Fishers to challenge the status quo of transit and engage a wider audience in the future of transportation.”

Fishers mayor Scott Fadness added: “With our commitment to innovation, technology and entrepreneurship, it was a natural fit for Fishers to serve as the first suburban site for May Mobility’s autonomous vehicle fleet. Our Nickel Plate cultural district is the perfect test site for this technology as our partners identify the nuances of a suburban environment for autonomous technology.”

In support of a low carbon future, the free service will use five Toyota hybrid Lexus RX 450h vehicles and one wheelchair-accessible Polaris GEM fully electric vehicle and will be available Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm, with shuttles arriving every ten to fifteen minutes on a rotating loop. Riders can see live updates of the shuttle’s locations on the Together in Motion Indiana web site.

“The Nickel Plate cultural district in Fishers represents an ideal location to deploy an autonomous shuttle service through May Mobility,” said Ryan Klem, director of programmes for the Toyota Mobility Foundation. “We are excited to learn how the community utilises the service as this experience will go far in providing valuable insights that will inform the future of mobility in cities all across the USA and further propel Toyota’s mission of Mobility for All.”

Aiming to foster innovation through industry partnerships and propel research and development in mobility technologies in Indiana, Together in Motion Indiana supports the deployments of various mobility options that are developed with local community input. With this human-centred approach, the initiative aims to serve the transportation needs of the local communities, understand the changing ecosystems surrounding these needs, expand such initiatives into other communities and establish networks for the sharing and leveraging of key learnings.

“Indiana continues to be a place for advancing autonomous transportation and partnering with the city of Fishers as our next city to deploy the May Mobility autonomous shuttle service is a perfect fit,” said Paul Mitchell, CEO of Energy Systems Network. “Public-private partnerships like this one only strengthen the goal of providing mobility options for all residents.”

May Mobility established its regional office in Fishers, Indiana, in early 2021. Fishers will be its ninth shuttle deployment since the company began operations. It recently completed shuttle operations in Indianapolis, Indiana, providing Hoosiers with more than 3400 rides to school and work from June to November 2021. May Mobility also conducts shuttle services in: Grand Rapids, Michigan; Arlington, Texas; Hiroshima, Japan; and Ann Arbor, Michigan.

“Indiana is excited to continue the deep partnership with May Mobility and the Toyota Mobility Foundation to bring the future of mobility to another community in Indiana,” said David Roberts, executive vice president at the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.

Fishers is a suburb of Indianapolis, located in Hamilton County. It has a population of 91,832.