Movies like “Back to the Future Part II” predicted a future with flying cars, biometric devices and flying drones. While some of those technological advancements have come to fruition, flying cars are still just a dream. However, the City of Fishers is making technological advancements in the form of a fleet of autonomous, self-driving vehicles.
In partnership with the Toyota Mobility Foundation, Energy Systems Network, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, and May Mobility, a leader in autonomous vehicle technology and shuttle operations, the city is offering a free, public autonomous shuttle service as of December 20 through May 2022. The service will connect living areas in Fishers to the Nickel Plate District.
“May Mobility identified the City of Fishers as an up-and-coming technology hub in the state of Indiana,” says Fawna Tucker, customer success manager for May Mobility. “Recently we did a similar trial in downtown Indianapolis. That trial was very successful, but we wanted to try the program in a more suburban setting. Fishers was perfect for our next partnership.”
The fleet consists of five hybrid Lexus RX 450h vehicles and one fully electric, wheelchair-accessiblautonomouse Polaris GEM vehicle. The free hop-on and hop-off service is part of the Together in Motion Indiana initiative, 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. The three-mile loop connects Pullman Pointe and SouthPointe Village apartments to the commercial district along Commercial Drive, Fishers Corner Boulevard, Municipal Drive and 116th Street, including a stop along the new Nickel Plate Trail.
“Our first goal was to showcase the technology behind autonomous vehicles,” Tucker says. “We also wanted to make an impact for the folks who live, work and play in the downtown Fishers area.”
While the cars are autonomous, a trained person will be in each vehicle at all times to ensure safety for riders. This allows for intervention when necessary and route changes. Riders can see live updates on the shuttle’s locations on the Together in Motion Indiana website.
“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,” says 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.”
The cars are clearly marked so other drivers and riders can identify them quickly. Each stop along the route is clearly marked with route information, and a QR code with information about May Mobility’s technology.
“The cars operate on what is called a route network,” Tucker says. “Basically that is an internal map our engineers spend time building in each city where we have partnerships. There is a huge team of people working behind the scenes to get these cars up and running.”
For more information, visit maymobility.com.