Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - April 2022 - 21

MaaS
AV Powers Bring
May Flowers
Michigan-based May Mobility survived rocky roads thanks to faith in its founders' vision
and the company's autonomous tech.
by Lindsay Brooke
May Mobility is the professional boxer of the autonomous-vehicle
tech space. It hit the ring in 2017 as an
ambitious welterweight, full of capability, veteran AV
leadership and a hint of swagger. Investor muscle came
from the venture-capital arms of BMW and Toyota,
and other VCs. Its initial foray onto the mat, while
not scoring knockouts, was promising. May successfully
demonstrated its self-driving, low-speed electric
shuttles in three states and appeared on track to realize
its founders' vision: to supplement and replace traditional
urban public transit with fleets of responsive,
flexible and profit-generating AVs.
" It sounds corny, but the mission of the company is
to transform cities, " Edwin Olson, May's CEO and one
of its three founders, told SAE Media. " Our vision is to
make cities better places, with more green space and
fewer parking lots, which are my personal pet peeve. "
As a rookie, May quickly built key relationships
with city and state planners and the transit community
while its engineers moved hardware and software developments
forward. Optimism abounded while Aurora,
Cruise Automation, Waymo and Zoox engaged in a
higher-profile race to prove the commercial-AV business
case. At the same time, however, the pressure to deliver
was pummeling dozens of mobility startups. The heat
of the ring proved tougher than Olson and the May
team were prepared for in the early going. Some of the
geofenced city routes lacked riders. The shuttle's autonomous
operation was inconsistent. The arduous urban
duty cycle quickly overtaxed the Polaris GEM electric
vehicles used by May. Two of Olson's co-founders and
another top executive left the company.
" For engineers, it was a rocky time, " confided a
technical insider who requested anonymity. " It's not
exaggerating to say most of us had our feelers out.
Some left. But many of us never lost faith in Ed; he's
May CEO and co-founder Edwin Olson previously was lead investigator on
Ford's driverless car program and co-directed autonomous driving projects
at the Toyota Research Institute. Before joining May, he was also associate
professor of computer science at the University of Michigan.
a true believer in the inherent power of May Mobility
to succeed. "
Not tired of Bridgestone
Olson's guiding light and the capital markets' faith in
May's keystone technology, the Multi-Policy Decision
Making (MPDM) software stack and related IP that is
the autonomy " brain, " have helped put May Mobility
solidly on the comeback trail. Late last year, it notched
its 300,000th rider, a milestone in the AV industry and
a rich stream of customer-use data, Olson claimed.
The company currently operates routes in nine cities
in five U.S. states, plus one route recently added in
Japan. Investors noticed: In January 2022, May Mobility
announced initial closing of its Series C round of
funding with an investment of $83 million, enabling
Olson to expand the technical staff. Then in March,
AUTONOMOUS VEHICLE ENGINEERING
April 2022 21
Lindsay Brooke

Autonomous Vehicle Engineering - April 2022

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