Amanda Roraff, Operations Manager
When the PlanetM Startup Grants were announced last year, the goal of the two-part program was for global mobility companies to test and deploy their solutions here in Michigan. Over the course of the last year, we realized that the opportunity for testing and deployment could, and should, go beyond mobility startups. Re-branded the PlanetM Mobility Grant, small, medium and larger businesses now all have the opportunity to access funding for pilots and testing deployments in Michigan.
This furthers our mission to position Michigan as the global epicenter for mobility deployments, and supports projects that have a meaningful impact in our communities that can serve as a model for mobility startups and corporations globally.
Separated into two different categories, the PlanetM Mobility Grants encourage mobility companies to deploy their technologies or new business models in Michigan, or prove out their technology at Michigan’s state-of-the-art testing facilities.
One of the benefits for our grant recipients is our ability to connect them with the state’s mobility ecosystem. For testing that includes Mcity, American Center for Mobility (ACM), Kettering University GM Mobility Research Center, and our newest partners, the Keweenaw Research Center at Michigan Tech and the Michigan Unmanned Aerial Systems Consortium (MUASC) in Alpena, which represents seven drone test sites throughout Michigan.
For the Pilot Grants, PlanetM partners with NextEnergy to support project management services for each pilot program. NextEnergy works directly with the selected companies to establish grant agreement terms, outline each statement of work – including objectives, milestones and a timeline – and oversees the implementation of the pilot by serving as the fiduciary to disperse grant and cost-share funding. NextEnergy’s experienced team, their track record of advancing smart energy and mobility industries and technologies in the state of Michigan, and their new focused mission to work with innovators to accelerate smarter, cleaner, more accessible solutions for communities and cities aligns well with the goal of this program to make it easier, safer and more affordable for people and goods to move around Michigan.
Many companies selected for the program offer a thoughtful solution to accessibility and transportation challenges across the state. These are companies that will have a lasting impact in industries such as healthcare, where patients have identified barriers to mobility, and in higher education, where students have identified challenges to affordable and accessible transportation options.
Our first round of PlanetM Mobility Grants, with a total of almost $300,000 in grant funding, were awarded in 2018 to:
- Derq: A Detroit- and Dubai-based startup, Derq received the first PlanetM Pilot Grant in June 2018 to pilot their traffic safety artificial intelligence and V2X technology in Detroit.
- HAAS Alert: A startup with technology that connects emergency responders, utility, commercial, municipal and slow-moving fleets with motorists, HAAS Alert is set to deploy a first-in-the-nation complete citywide digital alert system in Grand Rapids.
- Humanising Autonomy: In an effort to help predict pedestrian, cyclist and vulnerable road user actions Humanising Autonomy will test bus driver alerts.
- RoadBotics: Using artificial intelligence to generate automated pavement condition data on Detroit roadways, RoadBotics will be able to analyze the condition of the City’s road network and build a robust data-driven pavement management strategy for the City of Detroit
Our second round of PlanetM Mobility Grants, with a total of more than $440,000 in grant funding, we recently awarded to:
- Bedestrian: In partnership with DENSO, and working with Beaumont Health, Bedestrian is an autonomous delivery vehicle that will be onsite at Beaumont Hospital, Dearborn. Set to launch in late 2019, the pilot will transport pharmaceuticals from the pharmacy lab to the cancer center and evaluate the human machine experience.
- NAVYA: Headquartered in France, with a subsidiary located in Ann Arbor, NAVYA specializes in the design and development of autonomous, electric vehicles. In partnership with BestMile, Flagstar Bank and IXR Mobility, NAVYA’s Michigan fleet will deploy a groundbreaking accessible autonomous shuttle to help improve paratransit services, in an area surrounding the Detroit Medical Center (DMC).
- Hi-Ho Mobility: Through a partnership with Aequitas, Hi-Ho Mobility will pilot a “chain of custody” integrated software & hardware solution to provide secure prescription drug delivery to rural homes in the Battle Creek area. Aequitas Mobility Services (AMS) has been working in the Battle Creek area to provide door-to-door non-emergency medical transportation and rides to and from work. This pilot will also maximize the usage of AMS’s vehicles.
- EasyMile: In partnership with Continental, Oakland University and the City of Auburn Hills, EasyMile will pilot an accessible autonomous shuttle service to address mobility issues on Oakland University’s campus. During the pilot, EasyMile and its partner Continental will launch its Zonar technology that will provide more automation and receive digital, real-time vehicle inspections through newly integrated RFID technology.
- Naventik: Based in the heart of Germany, Naventik is launching a software-based GPS receiver that doesn’t require traditional, expensive embedded hardware. The company specializes in localization technology for safety-critical automotive applications by enabling satellite navigation for autonomous vehicles. Through a partnership with Dataspeed, Naventik will bring this technology to U.S.
The next pilot application will remain open through June 1. Testing grant applications will be evaluated on a rolling basis. To apply or learn more, visit planetm.com/grants.