By Joe Guillen, Axios
Self-driving shuttles for older people and those with disabilities should be available in the city late next year.
Driving the news: City Council approved a $2.5 million contract last week with Ann Arbor-based May Mobility to provide free autonomous rides to the store, doctor’s office or other places for people 65 and older and those living with disabilities.
Why it matters: The project advances Detroit’s goal of being a leader in transportation innovation and should supplement the city’s troubled paratransit program.
State of play: Vehicle safety testing and development of the service’s mobile app starts this fall. Shuttles are expected to be available in spring 2024.
- Research for the project began last year and is funded through 2026 with the help of a federal automated driving grant.
- Ford and Mobileye are also exploring autonomous vehicles here, according to BridgeDetroit.
How it works: Riders will be able to book shuttles for daily transit needs on-demand or in advance through a mobile app, website or by phone.
- Rides will be available in two different zones — one north of downtown and the other covering southeast neighborhoods, per Bridge.
- Human operators will chaperone rides during the project to familiarize users with the technology and to assist riders getting on or off the shuttle.
What they’re saying: Tim Slusser, the city’s chief of mobility innovation, says the project will help solve transportation obstacles and build public trust in self-driving technology.
- “We want Detroiters to feel safe and well-informed riding on and sharing the road with autonomous vehicles,” he said in a statement.
What’s next: Community outreach to finalize service routes begins this fall.