Detroit Office of Mobility Innovation to conduct self-driving shuttle pilot

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The City of Detroit Office of Mobility Innovation has revealed plans to launch a new shuttle pilot program in 2024, which will evaluate the use of self-driving technology to help city residents overcome mobility barriers. The Detroit Automated Driving Systems (ADS) Shuttle program will use self-driving vehicle technology to get residents – age 65 and older or living with disabilities – from their home to a multitude of destinations at no cost.

The Office of Mobility Innovation’s US$2.4m contract with May Mobility was approved by the Detroit City Council to provide the shuttle service, which is expected to be operational by autumn 2024.

“As mobility technology advances, it’s important we use it to make sure our most vulnerable residents can more easily access the services and amenities that are vital to their quality of life,” said Mayor Duggan. “Detroit always has been a global leader in transportation innovation. It’s the perfect city to develop this pilot project.”

The city received grant funding via the United States Department of Transportation Automated Driving System Demonstration Grant and from the Knight Foundation and the Delta Dental Foundation partners. The project began in January 2022 with community engagement studies and will be funded through 2026.

The Michigan Mobility Collaborative (MMC) – a public-private partnership formed to support a mission of developing mobility solutions for older adults and people with disabilities – is leading the pilot project.

At present, the MMC is designing a self-driving shuttle service that can be scheduled in advance and have on-demand capabilities. Riders will be able to pre-book journeys, including roundtrips, using a mobile app, website or a call center.

“Accessible self-driving shuttles for people with disabilities is a game changer,” said Christopher Samp, director of disability affairs, City of Detroit. “A person with a disability will be able to use this service to simply go directly to their destination. Some individuals with a disability who are not able to obtain a driving license can reclaim their independence with the ability to travel with self-driving cars.”

Plans are in place to conduct outreach and recruitment, vehicle safety testing and mobile application development, beginning this autumn, with the target of beginning shuttle services by spring 2024. During the pilot, data will be gathered to evaluate the project’s scale and efficiency and its potential for use globally.

“The Detroit ADS project gives us the opportunity to solve for some of the challenges that matter the most to Detroiters, starting with a solution tailored for residents currently experiencing mobility barriers,” added Tim Slusser, chief of mobility innovation for Mayor Duggan. “We are solving for how self-driving vehicle technology can be integrated into our existing transportation network, while leading with what it will take to gain a high level of public trust. We want Detroiters to feel safe and well-informed riding on and sharing the road with autonomous vehicles.”

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After spending six years working as a mechanic for various motorsport and high-end performance car companies, Callum joined UKi Media & Events in February 2020 as an assistant editor. In this role he uses his vast practical knowledge and passion for automotive to produce informative news pieces for multiple vehicle-related sectors. Currently, he is responsible for content across UKi Media & Events' portfolio of websites while also writing for the company's print titles.

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