Starting in March, self-driving startup May Mobility plans to expand deployment of its autonomous shuttles to Japan.
The Ann Arbor, Mich., company said it has inked a deal to operate vehicles along a 1.9-mile route on the campus of Hiroshima University.
Initially, two shuttles will service the route. Later, May Mobility plans to expand the number of shuttles and service area as part of an overall effort to showcase on-demand service for passenger rides and grocery delivery.
May Mobility currently operates 19 shuttles with human safety operators still aboard in Grand Rapids, Mich., and Arlington, Texas. Previously, it participated in pilot projects in Columbus, Ohio, and Providence, R.I. A project in Detroit is on hiatus because of COVID-related disruptions.
A spokesperson said additional deployments are planned in the first half of 2021. The expansion to Japan had been on the horizon since Toyota Motor Corp. led the startup's $50 million investment round in December 2019. May Mobility has raised $83.6 million overall, according to Crunchbase records, including an initial investment from Toyota AI Ventures, the automaker's venture capital arm.
In Japan, May Mobility has partnered with the Higashi-Hiroshima City Autono-MaaS Promotion Consortium on the service at Hiroshima University. The company expects to hire 10 employees there.