Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer was joined by state, local and university officials at Kettering University’s GM Mobility Research Center in Flint to announce the first round of Michigan Mobility Funding Platform grants.
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.
Governor Whitmer said: “These grants are securing a foundation for mobility companies across the state that builds on our reputation as a global leader in testing and deployment of future mobility solutions, but also create a runway to future growth and jobs right here in Michigan.
“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.
This first round of grants is awarding $440,000 to five deployments that will help to accelerate investment in mobility and electrification and support high potential mobility and electrification companies who anticipate long-term growth in Michigan.
Trevor Pawl, chief mobility officer with the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification, says: “Michigan entrepreneurs and innovators are leading the way in mobility and electrification transportation solutions that will have an impact around the globe, while creating economic opportunity here in the state.
“We are excited to be able to support these deployments through a commitment to public/private partnerships as we continue to make Michigan a state where mobility solutions are born.”
Today’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 through the Michigan Mobility Funding Platform.
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.
Peter Deppe, co-founder and CEO of Kuhmute and alumni of Kettering University, says: “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.
“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.”
Kettering University has continued to be a leader in both mobility and technology research at the GM Mobility Research Center, as well as training the next generation workforce with programs like the Master of Science in Engineering with a focus on Mobility Systems now being offered by the University.
Earlier this year, University President Dr Robert 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.
McMahan said: “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.
“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.”
Further demonstrating the state’s leadership in workforce training around mobility and electrification-related careers, Michigan’s University Research Corridor released a report showing the alliance of Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University leads the nation’s top university innovation clusters in preparing the greatest number of graduates for careers in the mobility industry – 14,824 total, more than university clusters in California, Texas and Massachusetts.
It also prepares more than 46 percent of Michigan graduates who hold degrees in high demand by the mobility industry, such as business, computer science and engineering degrees.
Additional Michigan Mobility Funding Platform Grant recipients are as follows:
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.
Anthony Shannon, co-founder of MUVE, said: “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.
“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.
Michael Healander, CEO of Airspace Link, said: “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.
“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 percent in battery consumption, which will help alleviate range anxiety and accelerate adoption of electric vehicles in Michigan.
Sudhindra Uppuluri, co-founder and chief technology officer of GreenRoute, said: GreenRoute technology is an inexpensive way to improve fuel economy and extend EV range without paying for a larger battery.
“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, 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.
Chad Cushman, president of Indian Trails, said: “Michigan Flyer is uniquely positioned to lead the development of an integrated, multi-modal system that finally goes the full distance for passengers.
“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.”