Grand Rapids, US is piloting AVs

The Grand Rapids Autonomous Mobility Initiative brought together a consortium of 9 entities including the City of Grand Rapids and shuttle manufacturer May Mobility to test four self-driving shuttles for one year beginning in March 2019. The shuttles connected riders along a 3.2 mile loop running side-by-side with the city’s West Route Bus Service linking parking lots to museums, sports arenas, and community spaces in downtown Grand Rapids, and the business district. The Grand Rapids pilot was the third for Ann Arbor, Mich.-based May Mobliity, which had already tested driverless shuttles in Detroit and Columbus, Ohio.

According to Crains Detroit, the city committed $250,000 of dedicated funding to the project. Notably, and unlike most cities, the city had identified three specific learning goals at the outset of this pilot. First, understand the feasibility of AVs and impacts on “existing urban structures”. Second, address accessibility issues, with a particular focus on the elderly and people with disabilities, “and explore solutions around design of interiors and the urban environment to facilitate accessibility.” Third, “[p]repare the local community and neighborhoods for the effects of autonomous mobility. This is a priority for the initiative and will include open sessions for community stakeholders for community visioning, goal setting, plan making and recommendations for public investments.”

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