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September 19th, 2018

Self-Driving Shuttles Start Rolling In Columbus

May Mobility will begin testing self-driving shuttle operations around the Scioto Mile this week


COLUMBUS, Ohio (Sep. 19, 2018) – Self-driving shuttles will hit the streets in Columbus this week as part of an initiative announced in July by Smart Columbus and DriveOhio. The project is designed to provide education and a first-hand experience with intelligent transportation for residents and visitors. The low-speed shuttles will be operated by May Mobility -- an Ann Arbor, Michigan-based startup -- without passengers starting this week while the route is tested and mapped. The shuttles will begin accepting passengers in December. 

“We’re proud to have the first self-driving shuttle in Ohio being tested on the streets of Columbus,” said Mayor Andrew J. Ginther. “This pilot will shape future uses of this emerging technology in Columbus and the nation.  Residents win when we add more mobility options to our transportation ecosystem -- making it easier to get to work, school or local attractions.”

The all-electric vehicle is equipped with a powerful array of sensors and intelligent software designed to move passengers along the downtown Scioto Mile loop. The vehicles will have a panoramic glass roof that allows riders to enjoy views of the city skyline while they sit in a four-seat “campfire” configuration in the rear of the vehicle. In the front cabin, passengers have access to an immersive 49-inch digital display that provides system and route information. 

An operator will oversee the operation of the vehicle to ensure each rider has the best experience. The operator will have the ability to take control of the vehicle at any time, if necessary.

“Cities are seeking cost-effective transportation services that will improve congestion in urban cores, and self-driving shuttles can offer a huge relief,” said Edwin Olson, founder and CEO of May Mobility. “As we work toward a future where people can drive less and live more, we’re thrilled to be working with partners from Columbus to provide a new transportation experience that will make traveling through Columbus safe, reliable and personal.”  

Once testing and mapping are completed, the shuttles will service destinations along Columbus’ Scioto Mile, which include the Center Of Science and Industry (COSI), the Smart Columbus Experience Center, Bicentennial Park and the new National Veterans Memorial and Museum. The latter will open later this year. The downtown shuttle is the first of a three-phased deployment that will be managed through the public/private partnership and will eventually include shuttles deployed to multiple routes.

“The deployment of Ohio’s first self-driving shuttle wouldn’t be possible without the collaboration of dozens of partners spanning Columbus’ public, private and academic sectors,” said Alex Fischer, President and CEO of the Columbus Partnership. “The initiative is co-funded by a business community committed to transforming Columbus into America’s smartest city; supported by committed leaders from the State of Ohio and City of Columbus; endorsed by world-class educational destinations that will serve as shuttle stops; and informed by research conducted at The Ohio State University and Transportation Research Center. This collaboration will not only ensure the success of this educational deployment, but it will solidify Columbus as the nation’s preferred destination for self-driving research and testing.”

The research project will enhance the mobility of residents and visitors. It will evaluate the abilities of this technology to operate on public roadways in Ohio in all weather conditions and will help the project partners better understand the infrastructure required to implement and support the operation of this technology. Simultaneously, the researchers hope to expose residents to this innovative technology by providing free rides between local educational destinations. 

“This is an important project for Columbus, but this pilot is a big step in our statewide plan. We want to enable other local governments throughout the state to safely test, operate and evaluate these self-driving shuttles so they can help their constituents move more easily from place to place,” said Jim Barna, Executive Director of DriveOhio.  

The Ohio Department of Transportation’s DriveOhio initiative, in partnership with Smart Columbus and The Ohio State University, announced the request for proposals (RFPs) on July 2 to identify a technology partner to deploy, operate and maintain the shuttle service.


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About Smart Columbus

The City of Columbus’ Smart Columbus plan won the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) $40 million Smart City Challenge in June 2016 after competing against 77 cities nationwide to become the country’s first city to fully integrate innovative technologies – self-driving cars, connected vehicles and smart sensors – into its transportation network. Columbus was also awarded an additional $10 million grant from the Paul G. Allen Philanthropies to accelerate the transition to an electrified, low-emissions transportation system. Aligned investments totaling more than $500 million have been made by the private, public and academic institutions in the region to support technology and infrastructure investments that upgrade Columbus' transportation network and help make Columbus the model connected city of the future. Smart Columbus is a regional smart city initiative co-led by the City of Columbus and Columbus Partnership that includes partnerships with The Ohio State University, Battelle, American Electric Power and many more.

For more information, visit the Smart Columbus website,


About May Mobility

May Mobility is unlocking a better life today through self-driving transportation. We deliver solutions that work in today’s communities to accelerate the path toward a future where people can drive less and live more. May Mobility’s founders bring unparalleled expertise in academia, innovation and the auto industry, counting University of Michigan’s APRIL lab, MIT, the DARPA Urban Challenge, Ford, GM, and Toyota among recent experience. Their goal is to realize a world where self-driving systems increase the reliability of transportation, make the roads much safer, and encourage better land use in order to foster more green, vibrant, and livable spaces. The company’s investors include BMW i Ventures, Toyota AI Ventures, Detroit Venture Partners, Maven Ventures, SV Angel, Tandem Ventures, Trucks Ventures, and YCombinator. 

For more information, visit


About Drive Ohio

DriveOhio was created by Governor John R. Kasich on January 18, 2018, as a center within the Ohio Department of Transportation that brings together those who are responsible for building infrastructure in Ohio with those who are developing the advanced mobility technologies needed to allow the state’s transportation system to reach its full potential. Current smart mobility initiatives already under construction in Ohio include four smart road projects covering 164 miles of roadway and three smart city projects including Smart Columbus, winner of the U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s first “Smart City” challenge in 2016.  

For more information, visit the DriveOhio website,

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