PlanetM Mobility Report

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Seven Michigan School Districts to Use Electric Buses to Transport Students

The Michigan Association for Pupil Transportation (MAPT) rolled out the MAPT Electric School Bus project Thursday at the Michigan State Capitol. Seven school districts will receive a total of $4.2 million from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE)’s Fuel Transformation Program to pay for up to 70 percent of the costs associated with buying 17 electric buses in addition to Level 2 and DC Fast Charging stations.

Gov. Whitmer with MAPT partners

This collaboration among Michigan school districts is changing how school buses of the future will be powered, expanding educational opportunities for schoolchildren. This is monumental for the state’s mobility sector, not only enforcing clean energy but new mobility opportunities. Some of the zero-emissions buses will be on the road as early as this year.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

“Since taking office, I’ve been deliberate in combating climate change, protecting public health here in Michigan, and advancing our state’s technology and the transportation landscape in a way that also improves lives,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

“Programs like these that replace diesel-powered school buses with electric models allow for students to learn about advancing technology and see what a real impact they can have when it comes to climate change. These advancements put Michigan on track toward environmental sustainability and reinforce Michigan’s continued leadership when it comes to next generation transportation.” 

The Michigan Association for Pupil Transportation, with the support of the Materials Management Division of EGLE, developed the school bus replacement project. The buses will be built by Lion Electric Co. and Thomas Built Buses/Proterra while PlanetM, DTE Energy Co., Consumer Energy, Indiana Michigan Power Co., and the Michigan Municipal Electric Association partnered with the school districts on vehicle charging infrastructure.

Israeli Startups Share Mobility Concepts in Detroit

DRIVE, a leading innovation center for smart mobility technologies, joined PlanetM, the Detroit Regional Partnership, MICHauto and MIBA in downtown Detroit Thursday to host a forum for up-and-coming mobility startups. The event gave Israeli startups the opportunity to share their ideas and gain valuable feedback from attendees as well as to attend matchmaking meetings and form strong connections within the state. 

DRIVE Detroit

Mobility and the New Urban Ecosystem

In August, PlanetM co-hosted the Automotive News SHIFT panel series "Mobility & The New Urban Ecosystem" in Detroit, bringing together the industry’s top mobility executives to address topics such as the importance of public-private partnerships; talent and resources necessary to define, develop, research, plan and build tomorrow’s smart and socially-equitable cities; and more, for the Motor City and beyond.

Amanda Roraff SHIFT panel discussion


Amanda Roraff (second from right above), director of technology activations at MEDC/PlanetM, participated in a panel discussion on innovation spirit and public/private partnerships, sharing how collaboration is key as the industry evolves into new forms of mobility. Watch here for a recap of the event with Jamie Butters, chief content officer at Automotive News and Alex Keros, chief of smart cities, General Motors Urban Mobility.

Calling All Startups: Automobility LA Top Ten Startups Competition

Automobility LA logo

PlanetM, a presenter of the 2019 Top Ten Automotive Startup Competition, encourages startups focused in the areas of automation, connectivity, mobility as a service, clean/sustainable mobility, advanced material and/or manufacturing to apply for the competition. The competition recognizes technologies with the most potential to positively impact society and change how mobility is perceived and experienced at a renowned auto show. Interested applicants are encouraged to apply here by Sept. 27, 2019.

City One: Michigan Central Station Challenge Accepting Applications

Michigan Central Station Challenge


The City:One Michigan Central Station Challenge, a collaborative project between Ford, PlanetM and the city of Detroit offering local residents and businesses the opportunity to suggest ideas and pilots to solve mobility problems surrounding the historic Michigan Central Station in Corktown, is now accepting applications.

Applicants must address how they might improve mobility for residents, workers and visitors of the Michigan Central Station Impact Area today while also preparing for the future of the area. The first round will select 12 finalists who will receive a $6,500 stipend in addition to a mentorship to help refine their ideas into detailed pilot proposals. Then, the proposals will be reviewed for the chance to win up to $250,000 in pilot funding. Up to five winners will be selected.

Those interested are encouraged to apply here by Oct. 31, 2019 at 4 p.m. ET.

Mobility Success Story Spotlight: MUVE

MUVE logo

Based in another country nearly 800 miles away, MUVE made its way to Michigan to increase mobility options and services for people with disabilities in the Upper Peninsula.

Click here to read how the 2018 "Mobility Startup to Watch" caught Michigan’s attention as a potential partner in building a more inclusive and accessible future of mobility.

Webinar: How Mobility is Revolutionizing Transportation and Business

Presented by PlanetM in partnership with Entrepreneur, join this free webinar Sept. 26 from 12 – 1 p.m. focused on the mobility industry and how people from all industries and backgrounds can be a part of advancing the future. Mobility industry experts – Jon Rimanelli, CEO of Aerospace Experience Technologies; Shadi Mere, CEO of Bedestrian; and Seun Phillips, managing director of PlanetM – will share their insights on mobility opportunities.

Register now

Upcoming Events

In the News

$7.5M federal grant to aid American Center for Mobility, Mcity

Federal officials on Thursday announced a $7.5 million mobility grant that will fund research at the University of Michigan’s Mcity and the American Center for Mobility.

General Motors and University of Michigan Detail Automated Safety Features Crash Prevention Performance

General Motors and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) released details of a study of the performance of collision avoidance technology on GM’s 2013-2017 product line.  The results show that several of these features are making a statistically significant impact in helping to reduce crashes.

Toyota partners with China's for autonomous car technology

Toyota has selected a partner for self-driving and autonomous car technology in China. Chinese startup announced it would collaborate with Toyota on future technology. has operated a self-driving ride-hailing service in a pilot program in Guangzhou; the Toyota partnership will see technology tackle public roads in Beijing, according to Automotive News. The Lexus RX will serve as the test vehicle with providing the self-driving systems and technology.

Texas A&M to use remote control operators for its self-driving shuttles

Texas A&M University is modifying its self-driving pilot program in the city of Bryan, Texas, to have humans remotely monitor and operate the shuttles starting in September, making it one of the first commercial deployments of teleoperation technology in the country. The teleoperation technology is being provided by a Portland, Oregon-based startup called Designated Driver. It will allow humans at Texas A&M to remotely control the shuttles in situations where the self-driving system may not be up to snuff, and they’ll also be able to interact with passengers on board.

Toyota going all-out with electric vehicles for the 2020 Olympics

The Olympics and Paralympics are coming to Tokyo next year, and official fleet provider Toyota is planning a massive deployment of battery-electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles. The automaker says it will provide “3,700 mobility products and/or vehicles” for the Olympics, 90 percent of which will be “electrified.” That can mean either battery-electric, hydrogen-powered, or even gas-electric hybrid. Of the 3,700 vehicles, 850 will be battery-electric and 500 will be fuel-cell electric.

TomTom launches a fully autonomous test car to develop HD maps

TomTom has launched its first autonomous test vehicle as it looks to improve its various mapping technologies aimed at the burgeoning driverless car industry. Ahead of IAA, the annual International Motor Show taking place in Frankfurt, Germany next week, the Dutch location technology giant today announced that the number of level 1 and level 2 vehicles using its maps for automated driving has doubled to more than 1 million this year and spans numerous automakers. To further improve its maps, the company has now built its own vehicle, capable of full level 5 autonomy, in partnership with Volvo.

Blackberry and Jaguar Land Rover to partner on autonomous vehicles

Blackberry and Jaguar Land Rover have announced that they will work together to develop new autonomous vehicles using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies. The two companies will use Blackberry's QNX operating system and Blackberry Cylance to develop a range of capabilities to bolster vehicle safety, including predictive software maintenance and cyber threat protection, in Jaguar Land Rover's next-generation vehicle architecture.

Meet Olli 2.0, a 3D-printed autonomous shuttle

From afar, Olli resembles many of the “future is now!” electric autonomous shuttles that have popped up in recent years. The tall rectangular pod, with its wide-set headlights and expansive windows nestled between a rounded frame, gives the shuttle a friendly countenance that screams, ever so gently, “come along, take a ride.” But Olli is different in almost every way, from how it’s produced to its origin story. And now, its maker, Local Motors, has given Olli an upgrade in hopes of accelerating the adoption of its autonomous shuttles.

Ford's EV strategy takes shape in search for popularity and profit

After years of heavy investment and one forgettable attempt, Ford Motor Co. has yet to deliver a serious battery-electric vehicle. That will change in 2020 with the introduction of Ford's first long-range EV, a Mustang-inspired crossover expected to be called Mach E. That will be followed as soon as a year later by a full-electric F-150, with two midsize EV crossovers on tap for late 2022.

Reach out to our PlanetM team at to connect to the people, places and resources dedicated to the evolution of transportation mobility.