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May Mobility Partners with Magna to Scale Self-Driving Shuttle Fleet

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【Summary】May Mobility intends to launch its first fleet of self-driving buses in Detroit, Michigan.

Michael Cheng    Jun 24, 2018 1:00 PM PT
May Mobility Partners with Magna to Scale Self-Driving Shuttle Fleet
author: Michael Cheng   

Magna, one of the largest auto parts manufacturer in North America, is expanding to cater to driverless shuttles. The Tier 1 supplier, which provides automotive components to GM, Ford, Tesla, Volkswagen and BMW, recently formed a partnership with Michigan-based May Mobility to build autonomous buses.

May Mobility is in the process of scaling its fleet, as the startup prepares for a series of commercial launches around the US. The two groups will collaborate on retro-fit projects for existing driverless shuttles, ensuring the units are street-ready and suitable for transportation services.

Partnership Details

Both parties have unique roles in the partnership. May Mobility currently has a fleet of autonomous, low-speed electric buses. However, the vehicles must be updated for urban locations. Modifications include custom doors, as well as a panoramic moon roof. Magna engineers will also upgrade wiring configurations inside the shuttles, in preparation for the installation of autonomous-driving components.

Under the agreement, the leading auto parts supplier must conduct sensor integration. Such tasks associated with the modification include custom mounting frames and new cabling.

"Magna shares our high technical standards and excitement about servicing the growing demand for self-driving vehicles to meet today's transportation needs, while also laying the path for the future," explained May Mobility Founder and CTO Steve Vozar in a statement.

"This deal demonstrates our commitment to scale and accelerate operations with a partner who understands quality and reliability in the build process, and who can match the exacting process that makes us a trusted community partner."

May Mobility and Magna are backed by well-established automotive brands. Earlier this year, May Mobility raised $11.5 million during a seed round. BMW Ventures and Toyota AI Ventures participated in the funding event. The startup employs a hard-working team with experience from the DARPA Urban Challenge, Ford and Toyota.

Magna is an international company with presence in over 29 countries. The automotive juggernaut is known for cutting-edge innovation in the car manufacturing space, providing new solutions for traditional auto parts. For example, the business recently released the Comfort+ Door Latch – a component designed to ease door slams and promote quietness inside the vehicle.

Autonomous On-demand Services Coming Soon

May Mobility intends to launch its first fleet of self-driving buses in Detroit, Michigan. By 2019, the startup is expected to deploy on-demand services in various cities across the US. At the moment, it is unclear how many autonomous shuttles May Mobility needs for its services. Hundreds of units will be needed in the early phases of deployment, which could eventually reach thousands, should demand for the service increase.

Interestingly, the possibility of extending the partnership with Magna is high. May Mobility's end-to-end approach to shuttle services requires a lot of help to execute. In addition to providing autonomous buses for cities, the startup will also manage the fleet. The scope of services include maintenance, repair and daily operation of routes.

"We take a deep system view, which means that we're not just a software company-- we also build the hardware necessary to deliver safety, reliability, and performance," said the startup.

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