The Toyota Mobility Foundation (TMF), Energy Systems Network (ESN) and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), have joined with May Mobility, a leader in autonomous vehicle (AV) technology and shuttle operations, to launch a free autonomous shuttle service in Central Indiana.
The free service, a part of TMF’s Together in Motion Indiana, began June 1, and serves the downtown Indianapolis and Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) communities. Together in Motion is an initiative bringing stakeholders together to test the interoperability of mobility innovations and facilitate the efficient movement of people and goods. The autonomous shuttle service supports the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Sustainable Cities and Communities goal (No. 11) and Toyota’s commitment to providing Mobility for All.
“At May Mobility, our mission is to bring safe, accessible and reliable mobility solutions to communities around the world,” said Edwin Olson, co-founder and CEO of May Mobility. “We’re excited to bring AV technology to Central Indiana through our partnership with the Toyota Mobility Foundation, Energy Systems Network and IndyGo.”
The Together in Motion AV shuttle service runs through Nov. 19, 2021 and operates Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The service is available to the public and features five Lexus RX 450h vehicles and one wheelchair-accessible Polaris GEM shuttle equipped with May Mobility’s autonomous technology.
There are nine designated stops in Indianapolis, each identifiable by a sign providing route information and a scannable QR code leading to the Together in Motion Indiana website. Through the QR code, riders can learn more about May Mobility technology and the shuttle route. Shuttles arrive in 10- to 15-minute intervals on a rotating loop. The route was designed to increase mobility options by providing a connection from the Vermont Station – along IndyGo’s Red Line – to areas west of downtown. Additionally, the route circles the IU Health University Hospital and the Riley Hospital for Children campuses. Riders can plan their trips on Google Maps and see live updates of a shuttle’s location.
“IndyGo exists to connect our community to economic and cultural opportunities through safe, reliable and accessible mobility experiences,” said Lesley Gordon, vice president of Communications and Marketing at IndyGo. “We will continue to lend our knowledge and expertise with the team at May Mobility and to work alongside these industry leaders as they seek to improve Central Indiana’s mobility ecosystem.”
To ensure riders’ health and safety, masks are currently required for all passengers and fleet attendants. Shuttles will carry only one household per ride, and all shuttles are equipped with partitions and UVC disinfectant lights that will clean the shuttle interior between rides.
The AV shuttle service is part of the Together in Motion Indiana initiative announced earlier this year by TMF and ESN. It aims to foster innovation through industry partnerships and propel research and development in advanced mobility technologies in Indiana. The initiative supports the deployments of various mobility solutions to better serve the transportation needs of the local communities, to understand the changing ecosystems surrounding these needs, to potentially expand such initiatives into other communities, and to establish networks for the sharing and leveraging of key learnings. As each mobility solution is developed with local community input, this human-centered approach facilitates the implementation of valued activities and the commercialization of an array of cooperative options.
“Indiana is the ideal location to launch the first Together in Motion initiative because of the strong local partnerships with Energy Systems Network and the local communities,” said Ryan Klem, director of Programs, Toyota Mobility Foundation. “They have facilitated May Mobility’s integration into the local transportation offerings, and we look forward to learning about local use and impact so we can transfer and scale this knowledge to other locations.”
Prior to opening the shuttle service to the public, May Mobility provided Indianapolis residents and Indy 500 race week guests free 10-minute-long rides along a special demonstration route near the Indiana Statehouse. More than 60 attendees experienced the AV shuttle service in a Lexus RX 450h equipped with May Mobility’s autonomous technology.
“Bringing innovative mobility solutions to Indiana with partners steeped in advancing autonomous technology positions the state as a leader in this in-demand and growing sector,” said Dave Roberts, chief innovation officer, Indiana Economic Development Corporation. “Engaging with ESN, Toyota Mobility Foundation and May Mobility to assist in this effort shows the commitment to finding the best technology partners to provide additional transportation resources to residents throughout the state.”
In the next phase of the initiative, May Mobility will operate an AV shuttle route in Fishers, Indiana. This service is slated to begin in November 2021.