January 6, 2022 5: 30 AM
RAPID autonomous vehicle from May Mobility in Arlington, Texas.
Image Credit: Via
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The companies launched self-driving cars on-demand in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Grand Rapids and Texas. According to the companies, this shows how fast autonomous vehicle (AV), service can be scaled up in cities with a shortage of buses, subways or other public transport options.
May Mobility manufactures self-driving cars, while Via offers its TransitTech service which allows the cars to be used as public transport. They launched the autonomous vehicle service, dubbed Rapid, in Arlingon in March 2021, and it has surpassed 20,000 rides to date.
The cars pick up passengers at designated pickup points, and drop them off at their destinations like downtown Arlington or the University of Texas Arlington. And before that, the city replaced its fixed bus lines in 2017 with on-demand microtransit, with human drivers serving the city of 400,000 residents. For those with limited mobility, it can offer door-to–door service.
Above: May Mobility and Via provide self-driving car public transit in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Image Credit: Via
The services in Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor, which launched in August and October 2021, respectively, both also continue to grow in ridership month-by-month.
“We believe autonomous vehicles can reach their full potential in large-scale transit networks. They must be available on-demand, dynamically routed and shared by Via,” stated Cariann Chan (Via’s senior vice president of business). “Our three services with May Mobility demonstrate how launching highly-customized, public AV services using a common software platform is possible for a variety of use cases and geographies.”
May Mobility, Via offer shared, on-demand, dynamically-routed AV services. Each service is tailored to the specific needs of each city. The companies stated that each service provided equitable and efficient driverless transportation services, demonstrating how AVs can be used in mass transit.
“May is a strong advocate for how shared autonomous vehicles could be used to supplement existing transit systems and add value to communities,” Shana Downs (director of channel management and sales at May Mobility) said in a statement. “Using Via’s technology has allowed us to take that vision to a higher level and continue to bring tangible benefits to riders today .”
Data gathered from Arlington’s Rapid service shows that AVs can be used as part of mass transportation and scaled efficiently. More than 60% of riders use Rapid to get to essential destinations including work, school, medical places, or shopping.
An overwhelming amount — nearly 90% — of riders agreed or strongly agreed they would ride Rapid again in the future, with a vast majority agreeing that booking their trip and boarding the autonomous vehicle with Via’s rider app and in-vehicle passenger screen was easy.
After riding RAPID, 80% of riders agreed or strongly agreed that AVs can increase the convenience of travel.
Above: May Mobility’s self-driving car.
Image Credit: May Mobility
The 20,000-rides milestone in Arlington comes one year after Via and May Mobility announced their partnership in November 2020. This collaboration will allow both companies to expand their reach into autonomous on-demand mobility globally.
The partnership involves Via’s TransitTech software being integrated into May Mobility’s autonomous vehicle platform. This will support fleet management, bookings, routing, passenger and vehicle allocation, as well as rider experience.
Via, May Mobility, look forward to helping cities and communities establish autonomous vehicle networks to increase access to sustainable, efficient public transportation throughout the country.
Founded in 2012, Via pioneered the TransitTech category by using new technologies to develop public mobility systems — optimizing networks of buses, shuttles, wheelchair-accessible vehicles, school buses, autonomous vehicles, and electric vehicles around the globe.
Via’s goal is to create the most efficient, equitable and sustainable transportation network possible for all riders, including those with limited mobility and those without smartphones. It has more than 500 partnerships around the world.
May Mobility’s vehicles have given more than 300,000 autonomous rides to date. The company had challenges in the past, but the recent results with Via are encouraging.
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