“Walkable City” Adds Free Autonomous Shuttle Service

One of the selling points of investing in the Nickel Plate Trail within Fishers was the creation of a walkable community where people could live, work, and walk all in the same area. As such the new announcement in a press release this week by the City of Fishers has left a few people scratching their heads. Those concerned with traffic congestion in the downtown area are also likely to do a double take.

On December 20th, the autonomous shuttle service that had been mentioned in the past by the city leaders, will officially launch in the downtown Nickel Plate District. The shuttle service will be free and is expected to operate from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The route for the five hybrid-electric Lexus RX 450h and one fully electric Polaris GEM vehicles has nine stops where passengers (up to 3 per vehicle or 2 if one is in a wheelchair) can catch a ride on a first-come-first-served basis. The vehicles will operate at speeds of approximately 25 miles per hour or within posted speed limits. Most of the roads where the vehicles are running are set at 25 MPH or lower anyway. Those wondering if it would connect the downtown area to The Yard at The District will be disappointed. It does not.

Fishers AV Shuttle Map

While the vehicles are autonomous, there will be attendants in the vehicles. Additionally, one of the vehicles will support wheelchairs.

The question of cost to taxpayers has been raised. The service had been originally mentioned as part of the incentive discussions between the City and May Mobility when they came to Fishers earlier this year.

While adding vehicles to the streets is counter to the idea of a walkable city, it will provide a bit of leading-edge technology. For those in the Pullman Pointe and new Southpointe Village apartments, they now have a free service to get to Target, the Smoothie King, or other downtown areas. For the rest of Fishers, it isn’t as clear as to the direct value. Indirectly, however, for those curious about hybrid-electric and autonomous vehicles, it will be a chance to take a closer look and experience a ride at no cost.

The press release from the City of Fishers follows:

Together in Motion Indiana autonomous shuttle service launches in Fishers on December 20

Toyota Mobility Foundation, Energy Systems Network, Indiana Economic Development Corporation, and the City of Fishers back May Mobility’s free, autonomous shuttle service as it begins the initiative’s second phase

FISHERS, Ind. – The Toyota Mobility Foundation (TMF), Energy Systems Network (ESN), the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), and the City of Fishers have joined with May Mobility, a leader in autonomous vehicle (AV) technology and shuttle operations, to inaugurate a free, public autonomous shuttle service on December 20, 2021 to serve the area surrounding the Nickel Plate Cultural District in Fishers, Ind. The AV shuttle service is part of the Together in Motion Indiana initiative announced earlier this year by TMF and ESN that previously provided a similar autonomous shuttle service in downtown Indianapolis for six months.

May Mobility will manage a fleet of autonomous, shared vehicles that will operate along a three-mile fixed-route loop with nine designated stops to service the live, work, and play districts of downtown Fishers. The hop-on, hop-off service connects the residential area at Pullman Pointe and South Pointe Village apartments to the commercial district along Commercial Drive and Fishers Corner Boulevard, Municipal Drive and 116th Street, including a stop along the new Nickel Plate Trail. Each route stop is identifiable by a sign with route information and a QR code with more information about May Mobility’s technology.

“With the launch in Fishers, we’ll be adding a new public transportation service in a community that primarily relies on personal vehicle ownership,” said Edwin Olson, CEO of May Mobility. “This is an amazing opportunity to partner with Fishers to challenge the status quo of transit and engage a wider audience in the future of transportation.”

“With our commitment to innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship, it was a natural fit for Fishers to serve as the first suburban site for May Mobility’s autonomous vehicle fleet,” said Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness. “Our Nickel Plate Cultural District is the perfect test site for this technology as our partners identify the nuances of a suburban environment for autonomous technology.”

In support of a low carbon future, the free service will feature five hybrid Lexus RX 450h vehicles and one wheelchair-accessible Polaris GEM fully electric vehicle and is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., with shuttles arriving every 10 to 15 minutes on a rotating loop. Riders can see live updates of the shuttle’s locations on the Together in Motion Indiana website.

“The Nickel Plate Cultural District in Fishers represents an ideal location to deploy an autonomous shuttle service through May Mobility,” said Ryan Klem, director of programs for the Toyota Mobility Foundation. “We are excited to learn how the community utilizes the service as this experience will go far in providing valuable insights that will inform the future of mobility in cities all across the US and further propel Toyota’s mission of Mobility for All.”

Aiming to foster innovation through industry partnerships and propel research and development in advanced mobility technologies in Indiana, Together in Motion Indiana supports the deployments of various mobility solutions that are developed with local community input. With this human-centered approach, the initiative aims to better serve the transportation needs of the local communities, to understand the changing ecosystems surrounding these needs, to potentially expand such initiatives into other communities, and to establish networks for the sharing and leveraging of key learnings.

“Indiana continues to be a place for advancing autonomous transportation solutions and partnering with the City of Fishers as our next city to deploy the May Mobility autonomous shuttle service is a perfect fit,” said Paul Mitchell, president and CEO, Energy Systems Network. “Public-private partnerships like this one only strengthen the goal of providing mobility options for all residents.”

May Mobility established its regional office in Fishers, Ind. in early 2021. Fishers will be its ninth shuttle deployment since the company began operations. May Mobility recently completed shuttle operations in Indianapolis, Ind., providing Hoosiers with more than 3,400 rides to school and work from June to November 2021. May Mobility conducts shuttle services in Grand Rapids, Mich.; Arlington, Texas; Hiroshima, Japan; and Ann Arbor, Mich. as well.

“Indiana is excited to continue the deep partnership with May Mobility and the Toyota Mobility Foundation to bring the future of mobility to another community in Indiana,” said David Roberts, EVP of entrepreneurship and innovation, Indiana Economic Development Corporation. “This service is an important component to the vibrant ecosystem of innovation, when combined with the autonomous on-highway work being supported by INDOT and the milestone event of the Indy Autonomous Challenge.”

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Together in Motion

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2 thoughts on ““Walkable City” Adds Free Autonomous Shuttle Service

  1. I’m definitely scratching my head… especially because the area is covers is very bike-able, so you could just jump on your bike and make a quick trip are time you like, no autonomous vehicle required.

    I really hope they aren’t spending any money on that because it would be way better spent continuing to improve the safety and convince of walking and being around the Nickel Plate.

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