BMW i Ventures, BMW’s EUR 500 million venture capital fund, has announced a strategic investment in May Mobility, a company developing fleets of self-driving micro-shuttles.
May Mobility began commercial operations this year, just over a year after the company’s launch. An October 2017 pilot with Detroit-based Bedrock was a key milestone in demonstrating the readiness of their technology for real-world operations.
“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. “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.”
May Mobility’s team has deep experience in autonomous vehicles, combining both technical stars with business development and operations experts.
“Communities everywhere are facing transportation challenges, and we’re ready to solve them with our fully-managed, right-sized microtransit service,” said Alisyn Malek, COO and co-founder of May Mobility. “Our new investors will allow us to deploy to more communities even more quickly, and to grow our engineering and operations capability to deliver the best customer experience. It’s a great time to join the team; the demand is huge and the potential impact immeasurable.”
Unlike, Google’s Waymo, GM-owned Cruise or Tesla, which are all working on level-5 autonomous vehicles, May Mobility’s electric shuttles were designed to move along short routes that have been mapped inside of a 10-square-mile footprint. For now, anyway, the buses operate with a human monitor on board.
When needed, the start-up installs sensors and car-readable “stickers” along the shuttle routes. Adding such markers can help the shuttles better understand their environment and more safely navigate through bad weather or around unpredictable pedestrians, bikers and obstacles.
May Mobility’s electric “microbuses” drive at a mellow top-speed of 25 miles per hour, not highway speeds.
May Mobility will have several additional pilots in the coming months. The company is backed by BMW i Ventures, Toyota AI Ventures, Maven Ventures, SV Angel, Tandem Ventures, Trucks Ventures, and YCombinator.
Through its previous investments in the fields of e-mobility, navigation, parking, car sharing and intermodality, BMW i Ventures has already entered into strategic partnerships with innovative providers such as Scoop, Zirx, RiceCell, Chargepoint, Life360, Moovit, JustPark, DSP Concepts, Chargemaster, Zendrive, Rever Moto, STRIVR, Desktop Metal, BUS.com, Proterra, Xometry, Caroobi, GaN Systems and Shift.