The U.S. last-mile transportation market is more lucrative than you might think — some estimates peg it at $28 billion. Multimodal companies like Lime and Bird have raised collective hundreds of millions of venture capital for e-scooters, bikes, and compact electric vehicles well-suited for short trips in high-density urban cores, and yet another company that’s experienced outsized growth is May Mobility. The Ann Arbor, Michigan-based company was cofounded two years ago by Alisyn Malek, former Ford autonomous driving head; Toyota Research Institute codirector Edwin Olson; and Steve Vozar, who previously oversaw the University of Michigan’s robotics lab. Its six-seat electric shuttles have been deployed in cities across the Midwest, and with a new round of financing, it’s gearing up for nationwide expansion.
May Mobility today announced that it has raised $22 million in a series A round led by Millennium New Horizons and Cyrus Capital Partners, along with LG Technology Ventures, Thayer Ventures, and existing investors BMW i Ventures, Maven Ventures, Toyota AI Ventures, and Y Combinator. It comes after an $11.5 million seed round in February, and brings the company’s total raised to $33.6 million.
“Communities throughout the U.S. are struggling to provide convenient and reliable transportation services, and our model is already being deployed to solve real parking, traffic, and land management issues for municipalities, developers, and business customers,” Malek said. “This new round of funding will help us expand existing routes and allow us to serve new partners as we accelerate our growth this year.”
May Mobility isn’t in the shuttle business, strictly speaking. Instead, it develops an autonomous vehicle stack and works with manufacturers to install it in low-speed, compact fleets with safety drivers and digital displays that show route information. Additionally, it offers a fleet operation service that includes cleaning, oversight, and other recurring maintenance tasks.
May Mobility-powered shuttles currently rove a three-mile route by the Ohio River in Columbus, Ohio, as part of twin “smart city” initiatives Smart Columbus and DriveOhio. They’ve also been operational in Detroit, Michigan for the better part of a year (where they’ve completed over 10,000 trips since June), and will expand to a 3.2-mile section of an existing bus route in Grand Rapids, Michigan in a one-year pilot that’s scheduled to begin March 2019. Providence, Rhode Island is next on the list, and May Mobility says it plans to announce additional commercial deployments in cities across the U.S. this year.
“Simply put, we believe that the future of urban transportation is shared, electric, and autonomous,” Benjamin Birnbaum, cofounder of Cyrus Capital affiliate Repower Group, said in a statement. “May Mobility has a uniquely talented team, a scalable operating model, and is already solving mission-critical challenges for its customer base that meet this vision … We believe that May Mobility’s impact on accessibility, quality, and cost of urban transportation will be transformative for the way that people move around cities.”
May Mobility currently employs roughly 50 people. In the self-driving shuttle space, it competes with the likes of Drive.AI, Navya, and Coast Autonomous — not to mention Aurora, Optimus Ride, Udelv, Ford, Toyota, Daimler, Waymo, Uber, Lyft, and other companies field-testing (and in some cases commercially deploying) autonomous vehicles.