PlanetM Awards New Grants to Advance Mobility Pilots in Michigan

PlanetM, the state of Michigan-backed business development organization, has announced a new batch of grants that aim to entice mobility startups and corporations to pilot their innovations in Michigan, or test and validate their technology at one of Michigan’s proving grounds.

PlanetM has awarded a total of $440,000 in grants to five companies. The startups are working on pilots such as secure delivery of prescription medications to rural locations, new GPS technology, and autonomous campus shuttles. (See below for project descriptions.)

Also receiving support this funding round are two testing facilities that are now part of PlanetM’s facility network: the Keweenaw Research Center at Michigan Technological University in the Upper Peninsula, and the Michigan Unmanned Aerial Systems Consortium in Alpena.

“Providing funding to these pilot programs and their partners to see their ideas come to fruition, as well as connecting them with the state’s ideal ecosystem, furthers our mission to position Michigan as the global epicenter for mobility deployment,” said Trevor Pawl, group vice president of PlanetM, in a statement.

PlanetM began the mobility grant program last year. Its first award recipients were Derq, HAAS Alert, Humanising Autonomy, and RoadBotics, all of which conducted pilot projects across the state.

Without further ado, here’s more on the new grant recipients and the projects they’re working on:

Bedestrian ($100,000): With support from auto supplier Denso, Ann Arbor-based Bedestrian will run an autonomous delivery vehicle onsite at Beaumont Hospital in Dearborn. It’s set to launch at the end of the year. The AV will transport prescription drugs from the pharmacy lab to the cancer center, and comes with a custom smart voice assistant and the capacity to carry temperature-controlled products. The service, available 24-7, will also offer tracking through a mobile app.

EasyMile ($106,300): Based in France, EasyMile will establish an autonomous shuttle service on the campus of Oakland University in Rochester Hills and Auburn Hills. During the pilot, EasyMile and partner Continental will launch the company’s Zonar technology, which enables digital, real-time vehicle inspections through RFID technology. Oakland University students will also get a chance to operate the shuttle as part of a STEM program at the university.

Hi-Ho Mobility ($80,000): Through a partnership with Battle Creek’s Aequitas, Hi-Ho will test integrated chain-of-custody software and hardware to offer secure prescription drug delivery to rural homes in the Battle Creek area.

Naventik ($75,000): German firm Naventik is launching the US debut a software-based GPS receiver that doesn’t require traditional embedded hardware with partner Dataspeed. Naventik is focused on localization technology for safety-critical automotive applications by enabling satellite navigation for autonomous vehicles.

Navya ($85,000): French maker of autonomous shuttles Navya will work with with Bestmile, Flagstar Bank, and IXR Mobility to deploy an accessible autonomous shuttle to help improve paratransit services in the area surrounding the Detroit Medical Center. Navya’s shuttles are already tooling around the University of Michigan campus.

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