Skip to Main Content

Part engineer, part problem solver: Bringing May to a city requires listening, testing and adjusting

  • By May Mobility
  • April 14, 2022

Highly skilled professionals, known as Field Autonomy Engineers (FAEs), work in two-person teams at each new deployment to ensure the service is fully capable of meeting the community’s transportation needs.

Months ahead of any May Mobility deployment, a small, agile team of engineers begin scouting, mapping and, eventually, defining service areas and routes for each new city. These highly skilled professionals, known as Field Autonomy Engineers (FAEs), work in two-person teams at each new deployment to ensure the service is fully capable of meeting the community’s transportation needs. Key members of the team from the moment May Mobility defines a potential new deployment and throughout the entire deployment process, FAEs ensure a city’s launch is technologically and logistically feasible, making an upfront investment in time, energy and resources to identify, define and perfect each service.

PART ENGINEER, PART PROBLEM SOLVER_ BRINGING MAY TO A CITY REQUIRES LISTENING, TESTING AND ADJUSTING

HEARING THE COMMUNITY

The saying that you should listen to understand rather than to respond rings true for May Mobility’s onboarding phase with a new city.

“FAEs develop relationships with the customer and other stakeholders early on to really get to know them,” explains Austin Dillow, a May Mobility FAE who worked on the Arlington, TX, deployment among others. “We work closely over the course of two or three months to understand a community intimately, learning the existing pain points in a city’s transportation infrastructure, where a service is most needed and what that service should look like.”

Dialogue between the local transportation authorities and various community stakeholders is important as FAEs define which roads the service will drive on to ensure the most effective route. Using a combination of this local input and public transit data, FAEs match potential routes with the service’s capabilities.

“We work to figure out what the best combination of roads, stops and routes is for the service that May can provide the community,” said Field Engineering Manager Jay Miles.

TESTING THE ROUTE

Once a route has been roughly defined, FAEs map routes to fine tune the path. FAEs “learn by doing,” Miles says. In a manual process, FAEs go through mapping, testing, and refinement stages, driving the roads autonomously repeatedly to help ensure the autonomous technology is given the necessary inputs to operate on its own. Local conditions present unique challenges with different traffic rules and local driving quirks. For example, in some cities or states, aggressive left turns are common and expected. Likewise, in some areas pedestrians are more likely to wait for a crosswalk to turn in their favor, while in others pedestrians are likely to jump in at the first sign of an opening in traffic.

“We help our vehicle be able to infer what it needs to do and what other vehicles and pedestrians are going to do,” Miles explained. “By giving the vehicle that information, we’re able to allow the underlying behavioral algorithms to estimate not only what it needs to do to get to its next stop, but what a person in a car across an intersection is likely to do.”

ADJUSTING TO PERFECTION

Constant communication between the FAEs, the cities and other stakeholders ensures that FAEs are informing vehicles not only on current traffic patterns and data, but also anticipated changes — such as scheduled road construction or influxes in pedestrian traffic such as the return of students on college campuses.

When the route is finalized, FAEs work to help hire and train a new local team, and act as technical experts and resources to the new teams onsite. Once a deployment begins, FAEs stay onsite temporarily to ensure a smooth launch and to address any questions from the field team as well as local stakeholders. Once the transition to the local team is complete, FAEs remain in touch and work collaboratively to maintain the integrity of the geofenced operational areas, visiting sites on a regular schedule to collect data, solicit feedback and maintain strong relationships with the customer and local team.

“After a successful initial deployment, we empower the local team to take over daily operations, while also staying in touch to ensure the deployment is successful for the entire duration of its lifespan,” Miles said.

More News & Stories

View All

  • It takes a village: Creating safe and equitable transportation

    February 22, 2024

  • Less parking, more public transit

    February 7, 2024

  • The future of autonomous technology at CES 2024

    January 23, 2024

  • Progress in partnership: Autonomous vehicles and government

    January 11, 2024

  • May Mobility CEO Edwin Olson to speak at CES® 2024

    January 3, 2024

  • May Mobility launches first driverless transit service for Early Riders in Arizona, takes next step toward transforming the way riders get around cities and urban environments

    December 18, 2023

  • MOTER Technologies and May Mobility join forces to advance autonomous vehicle insurance solutions

    December 13, 2023

  • Get to know May: Anna Brunelle, chief financial officer

    December 6, 2023

  • How autonomous vehicles give wheelchair users more autonomy

    November 30, 2023

Two professionals exit a May Mobility vehicle

Bring May Mobility To Your Community

We love meeting transit agencies, cities, campuses, organizations and businesses where they are to bring autonomy to their mobility ecosystem—and fill their transportation gaps for the long haul. Ready to partner up? Let’s talk.

  1. Contact Us