Michigan-based May Mobility Closes on $111 Million Funding Round, Begins Development on Toyota's Next-Gen Commercial Autonomous Vehicle Platform
【Summary】May Mobility, an Ann Arbor Michigan-based autonomous transportation startup, announced it closed on a $111 million Series C round of funding. The latest funding round brings the company's total funding to date to $194 million. Through its collaboration with Toyota, May Mobility aims to begin fully-autonomous commercial robotaxi operations in 2023, as well as expand into new markets.
May Mobility, an Ann Arbor Michigan-based autonomous transportation startup, announced it closed on a $111 million Series C round of funding. The latest funding round brings May Mobility's total funding to date to $194 million. The funds will be used to increase the company's engineering headcount, expand its global customer base, enhance rider experiences and further invest in technology.
May Mobility was founded five years ago and operates autonomous mobility services for cities, state transit agencies, as well as private enterprises. Over the past five years, the startup has provided roughly 320,000 rides in its compact and electric self-driving passenger shuttles.
"With the close of this latest investment round, May Mobility will continue to accelerate growth in our technology, business development and platforms, all with a global reach," said Edwin Olson, CEO of May Mobility.
The new $111 million funding round was led by SPARX Group's Mirai Creation Fund II, Toyota Tsusho, Bridgestone Americas and returning investors Toyota Ventures, Millennium Technology Value Partners, Cyrus Capital Partners, LG Technology Ventures and others.
Also participating in the latest round were two major insurance providers, Japan's Tokio Marine and U.S.-based State Farm Ventures. State Farm was one of the first U.S. insurance providers to invest in autonomous vehicle technology, which has the potential to make roads much safer.
"The insurance industry sees the future of mobility and is recognizing the importance of helping to design the way insurance will support autonomous vehicles in the future," said Ryan Green, CFO of May Mobility. "Having partners like Tokio Marine and State Farm Ventures helps expedite that vision for the future of mobility."
State Farm Ventures is focused on start-ups developing technologies and mobility services that improve vehicle and pedestrian safety. The investments from Tokio Marine and State Farm Ventures reflect the growing support from the insurance industry for deploying commercial autonomous vehicles.
"May Mobility's technology is a potential compelling advancement in the evolution of autonomous driving and may help to reduce accidents and improve road safety." said Michael Remmes, Vice President, State Farm Ventures.
Along with the new funding, May Mobility is also expanding its deployment programs with automaker Toyota, which includes developing an autonomous vehicle built on the automaker's Sienna minivan autonomous mobility-as-a-service vehicles (Autono-MaaS) vehicle platform. Toyota's Sienna minivans are being modified by May Mobility to serve as commercial Autono-MaaS vehicles. The first of these have already been launched for testing and demonstrations in Ann Arbor, with other public deployments slated for later this year.
The May Mobility outfits each Toyota vehicle with a suite of redundant sensors for self-driving, including lidar, radar, and cameras that provide a 360-degree view of the environment for safe driverless operation.
The modifications of the vehicles also feature an ADA-compliant up-fit through May Mobility's partnership with Braunability, so the shuttles will be able to accommodate passengers using wheelchairs.
Through its collaboration with Toyota and others, May Mobility aims to begin fully-autonomous commercial operations in 2023, as well as expand into new markets as the two companies build additional Sienna Autono-MaaS vehicles.
May Mobility's autonomous vehicle technology stack will also be added to Toyota's futuristic e-Palette electric vehicle platform that will serve as a commercial robotaxis. In urban areas, self-driving e-Palette vehicles can help reduce traffic and the need for parking lots and garages.
"We are already seeing the benefits of using Toyota's Sienna Autono-MaaS vehicle platform as it was designed from the ground up to interface with computers, and we look forward to future discussions on the use of Toyota's e-Palette as an exciting opportunity to set new milestones as we transform mobility with an autonomous, electric vehicle platform. This platform, coupled with our technology, has the power and capability to accelerate the future of mobility," said Olson.
A Toyota Sienna Autono-MaaS equipped with May Mobility's autonomous driving technology stack will launch this fall.
In March, May Mobilily announced a minority investment from tire maker Bridgestone Americas ("Bridgestone"). The new partnership will include the future integration of Bridgestone's digital and predictive tire technologies into May Mobility's autonomous passenger vehicles.
Bridegestone refers to its innovative tire technology as "Tirematics". It uses embedded sensors inside the tire to monitor pressure, temperature, tread depth and other data remotely and in real-time. The tire data can identify any potential problems, such as low air pressure, so it can be addressed before it leads to a flat.
May Mobility will also use insights from Bridegestone's proprietary predictive algorithms to monitor the health of tires installed on its fleet of autonomous vehicles, which will further improve safety.
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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