The Michigan Engineer News Center

BMW, Toyota invest in U-M startup May Mobility

Other investors include Detroit Venture Partners, Maven Ventures, SV Angel, Tandem Ventures, Trucks Ventures, and YCombinator.| Short Read
EnlargeDriverless shuttle in Detroit, Michigan.
IMAGE:  Driverless shuttle in Detroit, Michigan.

May Mobility, the autonomous vehicle microtransit company co-founded by Prof. Edwin Olson to replace existing transportation systems with fleets of self-driving micro-shuttles, has announced that BMW i Ventures and Toyota AI Ventures have joined its investor-base, co-leading its seed round. This funding will allow May Mobility to launch new deployments across the country. Other investors include Detroit Venture Partners, Maven Ventures, SV Angel, Tandem Ventures, Trucks Ventures, and YCombinator.

May Mobility’s team has deep experience in autonomous vehicles, and the company roster includes many of Olson’s former U-M students who have worked with him on robotics, artificial intelligence, and autonomous transportation projects in his APRIL Lab at CSE.

With general-purpose self-driving vehicles still years away, May is getting to market now by focusing on low speed, fully autonomous shuttles for defined environments, such as business districts, educational campuses, and residential areas. In October 2017, May demonstrated the readiness of their technology for real-world operations with a pilot in downtown Detroit.

“Vehicles and programs of all sorts are being announced or tested and trialed, but May Mobility is actually solving today’s transportation issues with self-driving vehicles on real city streets today,” said Uwe Higgen, Managing Partner at BMW i Ventures in a statement issue by May. “We invested in the team because they’re reducing the complexity of the problem to actually deliver autonomous mobility now, instead of years from now, and the feedback loop will be invaluable to the future of the industry.”

“We look to invest not just in the brightest ideas and teams in mobility, but in the best businesses,” said Jim Adler, Managing Director of Toyota AI Ventures. “We love that May Mobility is actively applying great technology to improve the quality of life in communities throughout the country. But it’s just as important that they’re signing paying customers that prove that the unit economics work.”

Driverless shuttle in Detroit, Michigan.
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Steve Crang
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  • Edwin Olson

    Edwin Olson

    Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

The electrons absorb laser light and set up “momentum combs” (the hills) spanning the energy valleys within the material (the red line). When the electrons have an energy allowed by the quantum mechanical structure of the material—and also touch the edge of the valley—they emit light. This is why some teeth of the combs are bright and some are dark. By measuring the emitted light and precisely locating its source, the research mapped out the energy valleys in a 2D crystal of tungsten diselenide. Credit: Markus Borsch, Quantum Science Theory Lab, University of Michigan.

Mapping quantum structures with light to unlock their capabilities

Rather than installing new “2D” semiconductors in devices to see what they can do, this new method puts them through their paces with lasers and light detectors. | Medium Read