Michigan awards $285K to new mobility initiatives that improve roadway safety and sustainability, and customer service
07 August 2022
Michigan will enable four new mobility services to help address challenges across the state related to sustainable transit, roadway safety, parking and staffing shortages in the service industry. In partnership with key universities, four companies—Bluecity, GEKOT Inc., Mouvit and Nimbus—will receive $285,000 in total funding through the Michigan Mobility Funding Platform (MMFP) to test and deploy mobility projects across the state, including in Ann Arbor, Rochester, Dearborn, Novi and Farmington Hills.
Bluecity ($100,000). Bluecity, a company working to transform transportation infrastructure through the use of real-time, multimodal traffic data, aims to help cities achieve Vision Zero—a strategy to eliminate traffic fatalities and severe injuries while increasing safe, healthy and equitable mobility.
With the assistance of MMFP funding, and in partnership with the University of Michigan (UM), MCity and Velodyne Lidar, Bluecity will deploy its real-time traffic monitoring and data analytics solution at five different intersections across Ann Arbor to study road users’ behavior. The technology, which uses lidar sensors and artificial intelligence (AI), will enable the city to monitor key safety metrics 24/7—including traffic conflicts, speeding and red-light runners—and proactively improve the safety of vulnerable road users.
Bluecity’s sophisticated detection algorithm will also provide the city of Ann Arbor with detailed signal performance measures to optimize traffic light timing and operations. Using these analytics, Ann Arbor will ultimately be able to identify operational issues and enable new procedures to advance traffic systems, improving safety and convenience for roadway users in the process. Additionally, UM partners will be able to build new applications on top of Bluecity’s standard solution, including sharing real-time traffic data with connected vehicles.
GEKOT Inc. ($70,000). Rental micro-mobility options such as e-scooters and e-bikes have become increasingly popular across the nation. The vehicles typically utilized in the states are purchased from overseas stock and stripped-down to the basics. As such, local governments and fleet operators have limited hardware options to address unique mobility concerns related to accidents, injuries, and theft.
GEKOT Inc, has partnered with Razor USA and Oakland University (OU) to help address this need. GEKOT will integrate its technical solutions package into Razor electric scooters soon to be deployed on the campus of Oakland University. The add-on electronics package introduces a suite of low-cost solutions designed to mitigate collisions with hazards while deterring theft, abuse, and misuse of rental scooters. The campus-wide study will evaluate the effectiveness of GEKOT’s solutions.
The GEKOT team is working to establish Detroit as the center of engineering excellence in micro-mobility and light electric vehicles. Currently, the key players in this industry are located on the West Coast and internationally. The intention is that electric scooter and e-bike companies will soon consider Detroit expertise to develop their vehicles. Usage and system performance data from the OU e-scooter deployment will inform future wide-scale development and assist GEKOT in building the bridge between the West Coast and Detroit markets.
Mouvit ($100,000). Nationwide staffing shortages have increased pressure on businesses across industries to do more with less staff. To help address this need, Mouvit, in partnership with Intent Design, Stantec, Lawrence Technological University, CAMACO, Henry Ford Museum and Novi Bowl, will use autonomous robots to help minimize staffing shortages, and ultimately improve the customer experience at key locations throughout Michigan.
Mouvit’s plug-and-play platform includes mobility-specific hardware and software that allows the company to develop custom autonomous robots that can improve the efficiency of business operations—including moving goods, providing food and beverage vending, or advertising. Mouvit and its partners will deploy these robots to service Henry Ford Museum, Novi Bowl and CAMACO. Once deployed, the robots will help to provide an improved level of service, 24/7, with minimal venue staff supervision. Additionally, visitors can interact with the robots using Mouvit’s smartphone app.
Nimbus ($15,000). Urban mobility is increasingly becoming an issue of space. As city centers and other population areas continue to develop and expand, so too must mobility options for residents —but between vehicle emissions, tight navigation spaces and limited parking options, it can be difficult to justify a traditional vehicle in an urban environment.
To help develop an environmentally and spatially friendly urban mobility solution, Nimbus received a $15,000 MMFP testing grant. The grant dollars will enable the ongoing testing and development of Nimbus’ compact EV at the proving grounds of Kettering University’s GM Mobility Research Center. Ultimately, the EV will be deployed in urban areas as both a private and communal method of transportation.
The Nimbus vehicle produces roughly 10% of the emissions of a full-sized car, and only one-third of the emissions that a traditional EV would produce. It has been designed to travel more than 90 miles on a single charge, and its slim build allows it to both auto stabilize around sharp turns as well as navigate and park in spaces too small for traditional passenger vehicles. Additionally, its sensing and AI capabilities monitor the road and help to prevent accidents.
University partners have long been key collaborators on grant projects funded by the state of Michigan, as they offer unique learning environments with resources that help facilitate the development and implementation of new mobility technologies. Past grant recipients—including ADASTEC, KUHMUTE, Fleet Lab and P3Mobility—are jointly exploring mobility solutions with university partners.
In addition, Michigan State University received its own Michigan Mobility Funding Platform grant to develop a mobile waste-to-electricity solution to allow small- and medium-scale farm operations to convert organic wastes into electricity for electric vehicles or farm equipment.
Launched by the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification (OFME), in partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), the Michigan Mobility Funding Platform provides grants to mobility and electrification organizations looking to deploy solutions in the state of Michigan.