Self-driving shuttle service launched to transport senior citizens and underserved to Detroit Hospital

Posted in Press releases the 19 August 2020

Shuttle connects The Village of Brush Park Manor Paradise Valley and Brewster Homes to Detroit Medical Center Heart Hospital, features […]

Shuttle connects The Village of Brush Park Manor Paradise Valley and Brewster Homes to Detroit Medical Center Heart Hospital, features ADA compliant wheelchair ramp

DETROIT, Michigan – In a Detroit first, a self-driving, accessible, paratransit shuttle is being deployed to transport senior citizens and the underserved to and from appointments and other needs at a local hospital.

The deployment – a partnership between Navya, NextEnergy, Bestmile, Flagstar Bank, IXR Mobility, and AARP, as well as DTE Energy, and the State of Michigan’s Office of Future Mobility and Electrification PlanetM – aims to enhance accessibility for residents of two communities, Brush Park Manor Senior Housing and Brewster Homes, through the use of a self-driving shuttle featuring an ADA compliant wheelchair ramp manufactured by BraunAbility. With these integrations, the service expects to solve the problem many residents of each community face attempting to secure reliable transportation to and from doctor’s appointments and other essential or critical needs.

This operation, the result of a 2019 PlanetM Mobility Grant awarded to Navya to deploy an industry-leading, automated, accessible paratransit shuttle in the City of Detroit (https://www.planetm.com/press-releases/2019/05/five-startups-launching-pilots-addressing-mobility-challenges-in-michigan-planetm-adds-testing-facility-partners/), intends to be instrumental in addressing today’s most critical mobility, accessibility, and transportation difficulties, including congestion reduction and advanced pedestrian and road safety.

“We have an opportunity, and a responsibility, to leverage our state’s robust mobility ecosystem and resources to ensure future transportation solutions better serve our communities. Through our state’s highly collaborative environment between our public and private sectors, we’re able to utilize next-generation technologies to create a future that prioritizes safer, more inclusive mobility services for residents that live, work and play in our communities, including access to senior citizens and underserved individuals. We’re proud to work together with our partners like Navya in supporting mobility-related projects that have a meaningful impact and create a better quality of life for our residents.”

Trevor Pawl, Chief Mobility Officer, State of Michigan

“Navya is thrilled to work with our partners at NextEnergy, PlanetM, and more to provide a form of increased transport inclusion to two of Detroit’s historic communities. This route and those it strives to aid the most, coupled with the accessible nature of the service that features an ADA compliant wheelchair ramp manufactured by market leader BraunAbility, are an ideal foundation to highlight how self-driving vehicles can provide an on-demand solution to our transportation needs that never deviates from its rules.”

Jérôme Rigaud, Chief Operating Officer, Navya

Starting mid-July 2020, a Navya Autonom® Shuttle commenced operating along a pre-programmed 1.31-mile route, with an on-board safety operator overseeing the vehicle, provided by IXR Mobility. While the shuttle strives to perform to its fullest capability of autonomy, the on-board attendant serves a multitude of safety purposes during this operation that make safety first priority, including educating passengers on the shuttle’s technology and assisting passengers with boarding and egressing. This operation is important for “building trust in Autonomous Mobility and connecting disadvantaged transportation, seniors, and people with disabilities to healthcare, local farmers market and pharmacies visits while boarding the Navya self-driving Shuttle,” said Ray Smith, Owner of IXR Mobility and Mobility Inclusion.

The shuttle runs Monday through Friday, serving the residents of Brush Park Manor Senior Housing and Brewster Homes during the hours of 9:00 am and 5:00 pm EST, and will operate through mid-October 2020. The shuttle service is closed to the public and open exclusively to residents of each community.

“Brush Park Manor applauds the opportunity to participate in such an innovative service for our Seniors. With transportation being one of the most difficult challenges for Seniors, this service will ensure they have the expediency, efficiency, and safety to access reliable transportation.”

E. Kern Tomlin, Chairman of Brush Park Manor Board of Directors

The complimentary shuttle service offers a unique solution for those who may not have the capability to take advantage of traditional transportation options; namely, senior citizens, the disabled, and those who do not own traditional transport or can’t afford the costs associated with traditional transport. Amplifying the accessible and inclusive nature of the service is a fully ADA compliant wheelchair ramp, manufactured by BraunAbility specifically for the Navya shuttle.  As the global leader in mobility solutions in transportation, BraunAbility is experienced in providing innovative, wheelchair accessibility in all types of vehicles.

“BraunAbility invested in this innovative venture because we believe in its impact and importance. Autonomous travel will be an integral part of public and private transportation in the future, and people with physical disabilities deserve equal access to these new modes of travel.”

Staci Kroon, CEO of BraunAbility

Aiding in the service is Bestmile, the global leader in fleet orchestration and optimization for self-driving vehicles. Bestmile’s platform and mobile apps will enable the residents of Brush Park Manor Senior Housing and Brewster Homes to benefit from a predictable and reliable self-driving transit service.

“Bestmile is excited to be deploying our world class technology along with Navya to better serve the community. We are uniquely positioned to support this project by our ability to power both on-demand and time-based services from the same platform.”

Raphael Gindrat, CEO and Co-Founder of Bestmile

The team has also undertaken significant measures to increase safety and sanitation of the shuttle during the COVID-19 pandemic. Passengers and operators are required to wear masks and invited to social distance by using and respecting the designated seating areas. Seats and surfaces are sanitized between each trip, with a touch-less hand sanitizer dispenser on board along with anti-bacterial, viral, and alcohol-based wipes available. The shuttle service follows sanitation guidelines as implemented by state and federal governments.

Assisting in the operation is NextEnergy, a partner to PlanetM and a state of Michigan entity supporting the funding and fiduciary services to support successful pilot launch.

“We are pleased to collaborate with the project team to activate the Navya autonomous shuttle solution to provide clean, smart, and accessible mobility to medical care for Detroit’s elderly, people with disabilities and veterans.”

Jim Saber, CEO of NextEnergy

Partnered on the project is Flagstar Bank, a Michigan financial staple.

“Flagstar Bank is proud to be part of this Detroit initiative to improve access to reliable transportation—a widely recognized challenge in Detroit neighborhoods—with state-of-the-art autonomous vehicle technology. We look for this project to be a window into a future of leveraging technology to improve the quality of life for Detroiters, particularly those in underserved communities.”

Brandon Lewis, Vice President of Community Reinvestment, Flagstar Bank

Synonymous with powering Detroit, it also makes sense that DTE Energy partner on the project to support the message behind the shuttle’s electric charging capabilities.

“This initiative will provide green, reliable transportation to Detroit – and DTE is honored to be a part of it. It brings cutting-edge technology to fill an unmet need in the community.”

Robert Feldmann, Executive Director of DTE Energy Electric Sales and Marketing

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About Navya

With 280 employees in France and in the United States, Navya aims to be the benchmark player in the supply of self-driving systems for the transportation of passengers and goods. Since 2015, Navya was the first company to introduce automated mobility solutions. The Autonom® Shuttle, the company’s main offering, was launched in September 2015, with over 160 units sold through December 2019: notably in the United States, France, Singapore, Germany, Switzerland, Japan and Australia. Visit www.navya.tech/en for more information.

About BraunAbility

BraunAbility is the world’s leading manufacturer of mobility transportation solutions, including wheelchair accessible vehicles, wheelchair lifts and seating, storage, and securement products. Founded nearly 50 years ago by Ralph Braun an entrepreneur who spent most of his life in a wheelchair, the company has grown into the most well-known and trusted name in the mobility industry, bringing independence to millions of individuals across the world. BraunAbility is a wholly owned subsidiary to Patricia Industries, a division of Investor AB Group. Visit https://www.braunability.com/us/en.html for more information.

About IXR Mobility

IXR Mobility was established in 2008 as OnDemand Transportation licensed as a Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) company to provide ambulatory or non-ambulatory transportation to disadvantaged Medicaid Beneficiaries with mobility services to healthcare-related medical appointments. IXR Mobility is a transportation provider under the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Medicaid Insurance NEMT program for the State of Michigan. Currently, Medicaid beneficiaries can schedule a ride to a medical-related appointment by calling the IXR Mobility call center 24/7.  IXR Mobility will soon launch a free traveler/driver mobile app that will allow beneficiaries to download and schedule healthcare-related rides from their smartphone, having the capabilities to track the driver location in real-time, book rides, cancel trips, and also connect the traveler to the driver through chat message.

About Bestmile

Bestmile empowers public & private mobility providers to plan, launch and operate highly efficient fixed-route and demand-responsive transportation services. A complex arrangement of advanced algorithms enables the Bestmile Fleet Orchestration Platform to automate & optimize operations for ridehailing, micro-transit, autonomous shuttles and robotaxi services. Founded in 2014 with a mission to go the extra mile for mobility, today, Bestmile’s pioneering life-enhancing mobility solutions are deployed around the world moving thousands of people every day.

About PlanetM

PlanetM, the mobility initiative of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), is a partnership of mobility organizations, communities, educational institutions, research and development, and government agencies working together to develop and deploy the mobility technologies driving the future. Available to any mobility-focused company or investor, PlanetM is a no-cost, concierge service that connects startups, businesses, and communities to Michigan’s mobility ecosystem — the people, places and resources dedicated to the evolution of transportation mobility. Michigan has always been the leader of the automotive industry, and as transportation technologies continue to evolve in amazing ways, Michigan continues to lead the way. Visit PlanetM.com to learn more.

About DTE Energy

DTE Energy (NYSE: DTE) is a Detroit-based diversified energy company involved in the development and management of energy-related businesses and services nationwide. Its operating units include an electric company serving 2.2 million customers in Southeast Michigan and a natural gas company serving 1.3 million customers in Michigan. Information about DTE is available at dteenergy.com, empoweringmichigan.com, twitter.com/dte_energy and facebook.com.

About Flagstar Bank

Flagstar Bank has more than a 30-year history of involvement and investment in its communities. From neighborhood revitalization and redevelopment to financial literacy seminars and homeownership workshops, we work at a grassroots level to improve our communities. Our leadership as a national mortgage lender has made us especially active in providing low down payment loans and special mortgage programs for Detroit residents.

About NextEnergy

Founded in 2002 as 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, NextEnergy works with innovators to accelerate smarter, cleaner, more accessible solutions for communities and cities. Since its inception, NextEnergy has worked with more than 400 companies, universities, federal agencies, and philanthropic organizations to drive more than $1.5 billion in advanced energy and mobility technology investments. Based in the center of Detroit’s growing innovation district with access to a microgrid, smart home, electric vehicle charging infrastructure and an alternative fuels platform, NextEnergy demonstrates and pilots technologies in real-world environments to gather data and diverse user-experiences. This process helps quickly scale and deploy solutions by accelerating commercialization with a specific focus on smart mobility and smart grid.