In a bid to tackle the issue of missed medical appointments due to transportation challenges, a pioneering pilot project is set to roll out in Martinez, California. May Mobility, a Michigan-based self-driving technology firm, is joining forces with the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) to introduce autonomous on-demand microtransit services to the Bay Area community.
Transportation barriers have long been cited as a primary reason for patients missing medical appointments. Last year, a staggering 21% of adults in the United States, lacking access to a vehicle or public transit, reported forgoing necessary medical care. The newly launched service aims to alleviate this problem, extending its benefits to both the general public and healthcare professionals in the area.
The program will seamlessly integrate May Mobility's autonomous vehicles (AVs) into CCTA's existing transportation network. The fleet comprises seven vehicles, including three wheelchair-accessible models equipped with ramps and securement systems compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
May Mobility's AVs, based on Toyota Sienna Autono-Maas vehicles, rely on a sophisticated array of sensors, including lidar, radar, and cameras, in addition to the company's proprietary Multi-Policy Decision Making system, to navigate autonomously. While the vehicles possess self-driving capabilities, they will always have a human supervisor on board, adhering to regulations set forth by the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
Scheduled to launch next year, the service will enable riders to book AVs on demand through the May Mobility app or by phone. Via, a logistics specialist, will partner in managing bookings and routing, efficiently grouping riders heading in similar directions into a single AV, optimizing travel.
Beyond providing transportation to local medical facilities, the program's organizers have plans to identify additional routes and stops that will benefit the broader community.
Manik Dhar, Chief Commercial Officer for May Mobility, expressed enthusiasm about the project, stating, “Our on-demand, autonomous microtransit is a perfect solution to aid CCTA's efforts to improve healthcare outcomes and equity by helping patients get to and from their medical appointments on time. This opportunity further proves that autonomous vehicle technology can fill the gaps in public transportation.”
May Mobility's foray into California marks a significant milestone for the company, demonstrating its commitment to expanding access to autonomous transportation. This initiative follows the announcement of other notable projects, including providing transit to an Arizona retirement community in April and a partnership with the Detroit City Council to offer shuttles for elderly residents in August.