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Driving Into The Future With May Mobility


(Photos courtesy of May Mobility)

May Mobility offers Columbus residents and visitors a glimpse into the future of mobility, as they are actively testing self-driving shuttle operations around the Scioto Mile.

On the road!

The City of Columbus’ Smart Columbus plan won the U.S. Department of Transportation $40 million Smart City Challenge in June 2016 after competing against 77 cities nationwide to become the country’s first city to fully integrate innovative technologies — self-driving cars, connected vehicles and smart sensors — into its transportation network. As part of that effort, Smart Columbus and partnering organization, DriveOhio, recently unveiled Smart Circuit — Ohio’s first self-driving shuttle — by offering free rides and a glimpse into the future of transportation.

The low-speed vehicles serve destinations around Columbus’ Scioto Mile. The shuttles offer residents and visitors a hands-on educational experience with self-driving technology. Engineers, researchers and policymakers from Smart Columbus, DriveOhio and The Ohio State University are using the demonstration to inform future deployments of self-driving vehicle technology in Ohio, including a route planned for a Columbus neighborhood, funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation Smart City Challenge grant.

Three all-electric vehicles service the 1.5-mile route, with shuttles arriving at each of four stops approximately every 10 minutes. The vehicle, which has a maximum speed of 25 MPH, has a four-seat “campfire” configuration in the rear of the vehicle as well as a 49-inch digital display that provides system and route information. A human operator (called a fleet attendant) rides aboard each vehicle with access to driving controls at all times. Michigan-based startup May Mobility operates the shuttles and employs its fleet attendants.

First stop: The Smart Columbus Experience Center.

Smart Circuit shuttles are able to operate autonomously through use of a suite of sensors that deliver a 360-degree view around the vehicle. The sensors and intelligent software help the vehicle understand where it is; in which direction to steer; and when to slow down, accelerate or stop for something in its path. Mapping technology allows the vehicle to know every inch of its route and navigate through various traffic conditions. Each shuttle has a vehicle operator that provides riders with information about the route and technology. The operator can take control of the vehicle at any time.

If you are curious and want to take a ride on the Smart Circuit, the vehicle operates from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. It services destinations along the Scioto Mile, including Center of Science and Industry (COSI), National Veterans Memorial and Museum, Bicentennial Park and Smart Columbus Experience Center. Additional information is available at

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