Six startups get Planet M Mobility Grants

TRAVERSE CITY—Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Wednesday announced the latest PlanetM Mobility Grant recipients during her opening remarks at the Center for Automotive Research’s annual automotive industry event, the Management Briefing Seminars.

The six startups aim to address today’s toughest mobility and transportation challenges, including traffic congestion reduction and improved pedestrian and road safety.

Propelmee, Aveopt, GoKid, Intvo, Aerotronic and AKTV8 are the third round recipients of PlanetM’s Mobility Grants, with a total of more than $450,000 in grant funding awarded this round.

“This third round of PlanetM Mobility Grant recipients are using collaboration, fresh thinking and creativity to push the boundaries of knowledge, technology and innovation in the mobility space within our state,” said Amanda Roraff, director of technology activations of PlanetM, the mobility-focused brand and business development program of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. “We’re thrilled to support these innovative solutions coming from such an energized mix of entrepreneurial talent, professionals, and students.”

The grant recipients announced Wednesday were:

Propelmee ($100,000)

Propelmee is a self-driving technology company founded in 2016, and headquartered in the United Kingdom. Propelmee has chosen Michigan as the first location outside of the UK, to expand its self-driving technology development and testing operations internationally, where they will demonstrate an industry-first approach to autonomous driving, without any dependency on prior 3D high definition mapping. Creating 3D high definition maps requires fleets of mapping vehicles to continually survey roads and collect terabytes of raw data, which needs to be painstakingly annotated. Propelmee’s technology allows self-driving cars to ‘arrive and drive’, without needing to manually create a detailed database of the 3D environment.

Aveopt ($100,000)

Headquartered in Traverse City, Aveopt specializes in the development of software and system solutions focused on the emerging unmanned aerial systems (UAS) market. Projected proliferation of these platforms integrating into controlled and uncontrolled airspace in support of various industries including commercial transport, infrastructure asset management and agriculture, creates a need for UAS traffic management (UTM) systems and UAS service suppliers (USS). Aveopt, in cooperation with Atlas Space Operations, the Michigan Department of Transportation, Consumers Energy and Michigan Technological University, will through the Michigan Unmanned Aerial System Consortium (MUASC) perform simulation tests and evaluations of its UTM Performance Arbitration System (UPAS) across wireless and satellite communications infrastructures.

GoKid ($90,000)

GoKid, a venture-backed carpooling system for schools, teams and families, is bringing its mobility services to Michigan. GoKid aims to help improve school attendance, lower tardiness and reduce traffic and congestion in front of schools by introducing GoKid Connect, the school carpool solution at selected pilot schools for the 2019-20 school year. An initial set of schools has been selected for the rollout; however, GoKid is making its solution available to all schools and districts throughout Michigan at a discounted rate as part of the grant program.

Intvo ($60,000)

Based in Ann Arbor, Intvo develops software that detects and predicts pedestrian behavior, especially in high-risk scenarios, to ensure a safe environment. Collaborating with the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), Intvo will initially begin deploying their technology on the streets of Ann Arbor, an ideal location for deployment given its high level of foot traffic. UMTRI’s current technology is able to detect pedestrians in the crosswalk and broadcast a personal safety message to any DSRC-equipped vehicles near the crosswalk, alerting the driver to the presence of a pedestrian. Intvo’s software goes one layer deeper, enhancing these capabilities by enabling earlier detection and prediction, and more accurate warnings reducing false warnings to drivers.

Aerotronic ($50,000)

Working in conjunction with DTE Energy, Aerotronic will be piloting a remote sensing technology system that captures vegetation and pole top data for the utility industry, using machine learning to analyze remote sensing data and explore how integrating these insights eliminates business process inefficiencies. The goal is to eventually integrate the sensor package with Aerotronic’s drone.

AKTV8 ($50,000)

AKTV8 specializes in control systems and components for electronically adjustable suspension to improve ride comfort, handling and safety. Alongside SAF-Holland, AKTV8 will test a new  electronic tire inflation system for Class-8 trailers in western Michigan. The new system, called SMAR-te Tire Pilot, is a combination the SAF’s Tire Pilot Plus tire inflation system and AKTV8’s patented iAir control system. Unlike the mechanical systems today that can only increase tire pressure, the SMAR-te system will estimate the load of the trailer and electronically inflate and deflate all tires to optimize tire contact to the road. Network and Bluetooth connectivity enhance diagnostic data for fleet management while a warning light alerts the driver of tire leaks and potential overload conditions. The system is a first for the trailer industry that promises to improve tire life and fuel economy – improving vehicle uptime and heralding a new era of tire health management.

Through PlanetM’s newest testing partner—the Michigan Unmanned Aerial Systems Consortium (MUASC)—the mobility industry now gains access to airspace at the Smithers Winter Test Center and Proving Grounds in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, allowing testing of integrated transportation systems and unmanned aerial systems. The addition of this facility expands testing opportunities from roadways to airspace, opening the door for possibilities including the development of a new class of emerging technologies and advances.

The next pilot grant application deadline is Oct. 1, 2019. Testing grant applications are evaluated on a rolling basis. To apply or learn more, visit planetm.com/grants.

PlanetM Mobility Grants encourage mobility startups and corporations to deploy their technologies in Michigan, or prove out their technology at Michigan’s testing facilities. PlanetM partners with NextEnergy to support project management services for each pilot program. NextEnergy works directly with the selected startups and corporations 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.

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