New May Mobility exec wants to scale up driverless vehicles

Dec 26, 2022, 3:00 PM | Updated: Dec 27, 2022, 5:03 am

In this image provided by Telemetry Agency, Kathy Winter poses for a photo. For more than a decade, Winter has been working to get autonomous vehicles on the road, first at auto supplier Delphi and then as general manager of Intel's autonomous transportation unit. In 2022, she has been named chief operating officer of May Mobility, a 5-year-old autonomous vehicle startup. (Telemetry Agency via AP)

(Telemetry Agency via AP)

DETROIT (AP) — For more than a decade, Kathy Winter has been working to get autonomous vehicles on the road, first at auto supplier Delphi and then as general manager of Intel’s autonomous transportation unit.

Now the 30-year industry veteran has been named chief operating officer of May Mobility, a 5-year-old autonomous vehicle startup, with a mission to scale up service in more markets.

The company is testing self-driving vehicles in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where it’s headquartered, as well as Grand Rapids, Minnesota; and Arlington, Texas, all with human safety drivers. It also has run a pilot program in Hiroshima, Japan.

The Associated Press recently interviewed Winter about the future of autonomous vehicles. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: Five years ago you said autonomous vehicles would be widely in use before 2030, without humans driving. Is that still realistic?

A: When I look at the progress we’re making, I do think it’ll be well before 2030. May has been targeting the end of 2023 to have the (human) driver out. I think we’re getting a lot more realistic about what it takes. They map very specific areas so that we know exactly where those vehicles are. And then you have things like Tele-assist, which happens to be what May is developing, that helps remotely should there be an issue. If you’re operating a fleet, you have a way to be able to jump in there. That should be extremely rare.

Q: What is standing in the way of pulling the human safety driver out?

A: You have the hardware, the software and the driving policy, but then you have you have the regulatory issues and the liability issues. You think of the state-by-state regulations versus nationwide. Different parts of the world are moving at different paces. I hope that the U.S. really embraces this and tackles those problems, because we’d hate to be the last ones to get the driver out. The technology is progressing well. May has given 320,000 rides. I think it’s more about these other barriers, and then consumer acceptance.

Q: You’re joining May at a time of immense change in the autonomous vehicle business. Ford and Volkswagen just pulled the plug on Argo AI, capital is drying up. Does May have enough to get through?

A: They’ve been realistic on their spend and very conscious of return on investment. I think they’ve kept it right-sized for everything they’ve been doing. Because of that, their time to profitablity is much faster than a lot of the others in the industry who’ve had extremely high (cash) burn rates and extremely high investments with a return on investment that’s way out there. We do make money. So the line of sight to profitability is much faster.

Q: How are you making money?

A: We actually run the service, whether the riders pay for it or whether a municipality or the private sector pays. The mission is to make transit that’s complementary to what might be out there with big busing systems or in places that don’t even have it. We use hybrid vehicles for efficiency. Make it safe, of course. Today there’s a lot of areas where it’s too small of a municipality. They can’t afford a bus system and they don’t have something that’s wheelchair accessible. So this is a great opportunity where May could go in and get extended ridership.

Q: So you’d run a ride-hailing service and a fixed route shuttle?

A: We aren’t fixed route shuttles. We’re really more flexible than that. A user can go point-to-point in that vehicle, within a geo-designed area. The strategy is pick a specific area and map it well, and provide service in that area. You wouldn’t go into an urban area that’s got incredible mass transit. But if you went to, for example, Grand Rapids, Minnesota, you’re not competing with all these other things. You map that area, but you’re not trying to map every inch of the U.S. The team has done a great job of getting where they are today, and I’m just hoping to help them accelerate and scale it in a big way.

Q: Part of the problem in deploying autonomous vehicles is having to interact with humans who break the rules. How will May deal with this?

A: Our vehicles imagine thousands of scenarios every millisecond that could happen. It looks at the most likely scenarios and the highest risk scenarios, and the vehicle makes the decision what to do. So it is simulating and looking at something that’s coming up. It really is how a person would think about things if they could think that fast. You would decide what’s the odds that child standing on the street is going to run into the street. Or what’s the odds that car coming over the center line is going to continue on that trajectory? If it comes up to something like a vehicle stopped, blinking lights, and the only way to get around it is to cross over the centerline and break what would normally be a rule. This is where something like Tele-assist could make that decision.

Q: Does it take the least risky option?

A: It’s always good to go for the safe option. So yes, less risky.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Paul Njoroge, right, points to photos of his wife and three children that were killed in the 2019 c...
Associated Press

Boeing pleads not guilty in case over deadly Max crashes

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Boeing pleaded not guilty Thursday to a fraud charge in an unusual case in which families of passengers who died in two plane crashes are trying to throw out a settlement the company reached to avoid prosecution. At a hearing dominated by emotional, wrenching testimony from passengers’ relatives, a federal […]
15 hours ago
abortion Capital gains tax Olympia meeting legislature abortion...
Associated Press

Washington lawmakers hear testimony on 7 abortion bills

Abortion rights proposals have been front and center in Olympia, Washington, this week as state lawmakers heard hours of public testimony on seven proposals that would reinforce abortion access.
15 hours ago
FILE - The sun dial near the Legislative Building is shown under cloudy skies, March 10, 2022, at t...
Gene Johnson, Associated Press

Justices weigh effort to balance Washington state’s tax code

SEATTLE (AP) — An effort to balance what is considered the nation’s most regressive state tax code came before the Washington Supreme Court on Thursday, with justices hearing arguments about whether they should overturn a prohibition on income taxes that dates to the 1930s. Washington is one of nine states without an income tax, and […]
15 hours ago
FILE - People walk on the sand near the shuttered San Onofre nuclear power plant in San Clemente, C...
Associated Press

US sweetens pot to study siting for spent nuke fuel storage

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. government has long struggled to find a permanent solution for storing or disposing of spent nuclear fuel from commercial nuclear power plants, and opposition to such a site is flaring up again as New Mexico lawmakers debate banning a facility without state consent. The state’s prospective ban cleared its […]
15 hours ago
FILE - Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, the Administrator for the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services,...
Associated Press

California prison inmates to get some Medicaid care

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government will allow Medicaid dollars to treat some people in prisons, jails or juvenile detention centers for the first time ever, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced Thursday. CMS will allow California inmates to access limited services, including substance use treatment and mental health diagnoses, 90 days before […]
15 hours ago
FILE - This Aug. 11, 2019, photo shows a Visa logo on a credit card in New Orleans. Visa Inc. repor...
Associated Press

Visa 1Q profits rise 6%, new CEO to take over Feb. 1

NEW YORK (AP) — Payment processing giant Visa Inc. said Thursday that its profits rose 6% in its latest quarter from a year earlier, helped by the continued rise of digital payments across the globe. The company also said its current CEO, Al Kelly, will step down on Wednesday. He will be replaced by his […]
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
New May Mobility exec wants to scale up driverless vehicles