FLINT, MI — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the first round of Michigan Mobility Funding Platform grants totaling nearly $450,000 on Wednesday, Sept. 15 at Kettering University’s GM Mobility Research Center in Flint.
Five mobility companies — MUVE, Airspace Link, KUHMUTE, GreenRoute and Michigan Flyer — received more than $444,000 in funding to deploy mobility pilots in Michigan that alleviate mobility barriers and help accelerate electric vehicle adoption.
The companies are located throughout the state, including Flint, East Lansing, Detroit, Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County in the southeast Michigan area.
“It is our goal to support mobility and electrification companies looking to deploy those technology solutions here in Michigan,” Whitmer said. “These grants secure a foundation for start-ups and for businesses across Michigan that builds on our reputation as a global leader in testing and deployment of mobility solutions, and creates a runway to future growth and jobs right here in Michigan because we are committed to building a stronger state, a stronger economy through safer, more equitable and environmentally conscious transportation.
“And to do this we have to be innovative, and we have to be collaborative. … We have to bring the private sector and the public sector to work together on new approaches so we can tackle long-standing problems with long-term solutions. … These five companies will help bring Michigan closer to our goal of providing sustainable, equitable and accessible transportation options for all residents, and I’m confident this technology will have a lasting positive impact on our communities.”
The Office of Future Mobility and Electrification, in partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Michigan Department of Transportation, launched the Michigan Mobility Funding Platform to provide grants to mobility and electrification companies looking to deploy their technology solutions in the state of Michigan.
“(When we) built this grant program, we had one simple goal: Find the best technology in the world and bring them to Michigan to solve real world transportation problems at a local level,” said Trevor Pawl, Chief Mobility Officer with the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification. “You (have) to start by helping one person, making one transit route more reliable, making one intersection safer, adding one more charging station. And if you did it right, and did it responsibly, it will allow a whole community to move a bit more freely, more cleanly than it did yesterday.
“And if overtime, you help enough communities, you can literally will a safer, cleaner, more equitable world into existence. And that’s the goal of this grant program. That’s the aim — for this round and future rounds.”
KUHMUTE, which received an $89,005 grant, has partnered with the city of Flint, the Flint DDA and Helbiz to support the installation of multimodal charging hubs throughout the city of Flint and encourage the adoption of sustainable first-last mile transit and increase accessibility to public transit and local businesses.
Micro-transit such as electric scooters and electric bikes will be able to park and charge at KUHMUTE charging hubs located near key destinations, including bus stops, apartments, restaurants and hotels.
“In 2018, we started KUHMUTE to increase accessibility and sustainability for how people move in the ‘first and last mile’ with a charging network for anything smaller than a car. Our team is extremely pleased to be partnering with the community where we started,” said Peter Deppe, co-founder and CEO of KUHMUTE and an alumnus of Kettering University. “A charging network that is agnostic to electric scooters, electric bikes, wheelchairs, delivery robots and more enables communities to choose the mode of transportation that is most convenient for their trip and abilities. Providing choices is a powerful way to increase the adoption of the most sustainable forms of mobility, and our team is excited to play a role in this.”
Wednesday’s announcement of the first round of grants through the Michigan Mobility Funding Platform builds on the success of an earlier mobility initiative of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
The Michigan Mobility Funding Platform grants focus on catalyzing and scaling mobility solutions that improve environmental sustainability by encouraging electric vehicle (EV) adoption and the buildout of EV charging infrastructure, alleviate mobility barriers and increase access to affordable and reliable transportation options and modernize existing transportation systems.
OFME has partnered with NextEnergy and Newlab to help review and administer grant applications, which are accepted on a rolling basis at michiganbusiness.org/mobility-funding.
Earlier this year, Kettering University President Dr. Robert K. McMahan announced a “Bright Future” initiative that evolves curricula and hands-on cooperative experiences for students that focus on the emerging industry needs of engineering, human factors, computing, software, AI and more.
“For more than a century, Kettering University has exemplified innovation and education within the automotive and engineering industry here in Michigan and around the world,” McMahan said. “As an institution, we are committed to embracing every facet of mobility to prepare the most highly qualified, forward-thinking leaders in this vital industry.”
Here’s a look at the other four mobility companies awarded grants:
Together with W.A.V.E (Western-Washtenaw Area Value Express), MUVE will help bring more accessibility options to riders, dispatchers and drivers and enhance operational efficiency through technology that allows transit and on-demand ride-hailing to be fully integrated to help users of all abilities, including seniors, veterans, and others living with mobility challenges, get to their destination safely.
“MUVE is grateful for the continued support from OFME and MDOT in furthering our mission of putting inclusive mobility and community building at the forefront in Michigan,” said Anthony Shannon, co-founder of MUVE. “We see the State of Michigan as the leading market for mobility innovation globally and we are looking forward to deploying our solution with WAVE as well as with the community partners in surrounding areas. We look forward to continuing the important work MUVE is doing in mobility, community development and inclusion while working to scale this innovation throughout the State of Michigan and beyond.”
Airspace Link ($125,000)
Airspace Link will be collaborating with a select group of drone operator partners, health care systems and other enterprises to establish an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) delivery network in the Southeast Michigan/Detroit region, to transport urgent medical items for improving the timeliness of patient care. The project will entail a phased approach, starting with simple point-to-point deliveries that will later be expanded to include multi-point and longer-range deliveries that can be scaled over time.
“We knew Michigan would be a great place to start our business with its deep roots in mobility and have continued to see extraordinary growth for our business in this state,” said Michael Healander, CEO of Airspace Link. “The willingness to embrace new technology and advancements from both the public and private sectors has been critical in fueling our success and placing Michigan as a top choice for these types of technology pilots and new infrastructure. The awarding of this grant helps move us closer to our vision of a world where the safe integration of drones fuels human progress, advancing social equity, the environment and the economy. We’re proud to provide solutions that can increase the safety and speed at which these solutions can scale and can’t thank MEDC enough for their support in advancing this mission.”
GreenRoute has teamed up with DTE to provide customers within DTE’s EV Connections Community complimentary access to GreenRoute’s energy-efficient EV routing via an iOS app. The routes are customized to the exact year, make and model of the vehicle and are expected to save drivers 15-20% in battery consumption, which will help alleviate range anxiety and accelerate adoption of electric vehicles in Michigan.
“GreenRoute technology is an inexpensive way to improve fuel economy and extend EV range without paying for a larger battery,’’ said Sudhindra Uppuluri, co-founder and chief technology officer of GreenRoute. “The driving directions we use today were created two decades ago considering the speed of travel and not the energy consumption in the route. GreenRoute leverages 20 years of advanced automotive vehicle math models along with traffic, predictive driving behavior, and your exact vehicle to offer a fast and energy-efficient route to the destination. We are excited to be partnered with DTE Energy to pilot this technology in Southeast Michigan.”
Michigan Flyer ($65,000)
With frequent daily round trips each between East Lansing, Brighton, Ann Arbor, and Detroit Metropolitan Airport and more than 200,000 passengers a year, Michigan Flyer—along with its parent company Indian Trails, Inc., and technology partners VIA RIDE and Turnit Reservations—will develop an API (application programing interface) that enables the reservation systems of different transportation providers to exchange data and coordinate with one another. This API will allow passengers will be able to reserve and pay for end-to-end trips using multiple providers on a single e-ticket. Phase I will focus on providing cross-regional connections for people who live and work in the Greater Lansing and Ann Arbor metropolitan areas.
“Michigan Flyer is uniquely positioned to lead the development of an integrated, multi-modal system that finally goes the full distance for passengers,” said Chad Cushman, president of Indian Trails. “It has longstanding public-private partnerships with the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority and Livingston Essential Transportation Services to operate daily service between their regions and Detroit Metro Airport. Since 2016, it has been testing multi-provider arrangements through which door-to-door transport services can be offered. And it has the support of folks representing several organizations of people with disabilities, including veterans, who will serve as a user testing group for the integrated system.”
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