Startups Receive Funding to Develop Next-Gen Mobility Solutions at Michigan’s World-Class Proving Grounds

The latest round of PlanetM testing grants takes mobility to new heights supporting both drone and connected vehicle technology programs, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) announced today in coordination with the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification. Grant recipients will utilize a total of $200,000 in funding to prove out their mobility solutions at testing facilities including Mcity  at the University of Michigan and Michigan Unmanned Aerial Systems Consortium  (MUASC).

“We are excited about the depth of unmanned aerial systems solutions being tested, developed and deployed here in Michigan,” said Charlie Tyson, MEDC Mobility Technology Activations Manager, in coordination with the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification. “Our testing grant program brings together two key assets in our state’s growing mobility ecosystem — our premier testing facilities and access to capital. We believe programs like this fuel mobility innovation, and we look forward to supporting the acceleration of these technologies.”

The projects from Great Lakes Drone Company, RAVE Cave and P3 Mobility are as follows:

Great Lakes Drone Company – $50,000
Stevensville-based Great Lakes Drone Company  received a $50,000 grant to test a first-of-its-kind aerial agriculture solution at the MUASC. In partnership with California-based Skyx , Great Lakes Drone Company will utilize the funding to further develop an integrated hardware and software automated spraying solution in an effort to minimize environmental impact within the agriculture industry. For example, this aerial solution would enable the use of a handful of drones to spray only the crops that need additional nutrients rather than blanket spraying all crops; the same is true for mosquito treatment of crops, allowing farmers to more accurately target larvae spots and in turn, reduce the amount of chemicals used across their fields. Leveraging integrated field data with artificial intelligence, the solution will establish the baseline model of a selective aerial agricultural spraying system via unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

“Great Lakes Drone Company is honored to have been chosen for this unique mobility funding,” said Ashley Munson, Director of Business Development, Great Lakes Drone Company. “The ability to combine our swarm experience of operating multiple drones at one time with the software and hardware expertise of Skyx, we can help revolutionize the future of aerial agriculture operations. Our goal is to find better, easier and more productive ways to accomplish what needs to be done, through technology and innovation, to decrease our environmental footprint. This mobility grant allows us to get one step closer to making that happen!”

RAVE Cave – $100,000
Sterling Heights-based RAVE Cave  received a $100,000 grant for ongoing testing at the MUASC to ready their lab for the development of specific parameters and content for the integration of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) infrastructure and platforms in an immersive real-time 3D virtual environment using real terrain data for evaluation. Conducted in both current and prospective environments that align with the requirements of next generation technologies, this project uses 3D visual models to create flight paths, traffic patterns and landing sites for real-world air mobility. Interactive models built for visualization and simulation will allow communities across Michigan, as well as the public and private sectors, to understand how UAS will be integrated throughout the state’s mobility infrastructure. In addition, this project will aid decision makers on air mobility issues related to airspace and safety, while exploring new infrastructure needs and possible locations of future flight corridors and takeoff or landing zones.

“The program has been well received,” said Art Adlam, President, RAVE Cave. “To date, the simulation allows control of a generic drone in representations of existing and envisioned environments. Current environments include a potential test site in the Upper Peninsula, a portion of downtown Detroit and an envisioned office complex located in a fabricated mountainous terrain.”

P3 Mobility – $50,000
Ann Arbor-based P3 Mobility  received a $50,000 grant to test software to allow vehicles to communicate with road-side infrastructure at the University of Michigan’s Mcity. In partnership with Siemens , P3 Mobility’s software solution is intended to increase vehicle and pedestrian safety, reduce emissions and lower insurance costs by providing improved insights to driver behaviors. Introduced to PlanetM through Michigan’s Small Business Development Center, P3 Mobility is utilizing the funding to build connected roads, which will lead to a better future.

“The PlanetM grant has allowed us to test our technology at one of the best connected vehicle testing grounds in the country,” said Erin Milligan, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, P3 Mobility. “The grant has provided us the opportunity to bring partners from Ontario, Canada into Michigan and is paving the way for deployment in both US and Canada.”

To accelerate innovation throughout the state, PlanetM’s testing grant enables startups and small to mid-size companies to access Michigan’s advanced testing facilities at a reduced cost so that their focus remains on enhancing and proving out their solutions, while deepening their ties to the state’s robust mobility ecosystem. Testing grant applications are evaluated on a rolling basis. To apply or learn more, visit planetm.com/grants.

About the PlanetM Mobility Grants
The PlanetM Mobility Grants, separated into two categories – testing and pilots – encourage mobility startups and corporations to deploy their technologies in Michigan, or prove out their technology at one of the state’s world-class testing facilities including Mcity at the University of Michigan (UM), American Center for Mobility (ACM), GM Mobility Research Center (GMMRC) at Kettering University (KU), Michigan Unmanned Aerial Systems Consortium (MUASC), Keweenaw Research Center (KRC) and Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC) at Michigan Technological University (MTU). PlanetM partners with NextEnergy to support project management services for each pilot program. The PlanetM Mobility Grant program has awarded more than $2 million in grant funding since its inception in 2018. For more information regarding PlanetM’s Mobility Grant program, visit planetm.com/grants.

About Michigan’s Office of Future Mobility and Electrification (OFME)
The Office of Future Mobility and Electrification (OFME) brings together mobility and electrification efforts across Michigan’s government, academic and private sector to create long-term economic opportunity and accelerate the development, deployment and adoption of advanced mobility technologies. OFME works to increase mobility investment, expand smart infrastructure, enable the mobility workforce and accelerate electric vehicle adoption across the state to reaffirm Michigan as the global leader in transportation. It spans the existing foundation of successful state-led mobility initiatives through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the Michigan Department of Transportation, the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy, among others. Visit www.PlanetM.com/OFME to learn more.

About PlanetM

PlanetM is a partnership of mobility organizations, communities, educational institutions, research and development, and government agencies working together to develop and deploy the mobility technologies driving the future. Available to any mobility-focused company or investor, PlanetM is a no-cost, concierge service that connects startups, businesses and communities to Michigan’s mobility ecosystem — the people, places and resources dedicated to the evolution of transportation mobility. Michigan has always been the leader of the automotive industry, and as transportation technologies continue to evolve in amazing ways, Michigan continues to lead the way. Visit PlanetM.com to learn more.

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