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The Future Consumer at CES

Over the past few years, the automotive industry has grown from having a token presence at the Consumer Electronics Show to being integrated across a number of platforms, and in doing so are a representation of the way traditional automotive and consumer electronics are becoming one.

Team members from PlanetM traveled to Las Vegas in early January to showcase Michigan's mobility assets and connect with others mobility leaders from around the world. 

PlanetM awards more than $224,000 to three mobility startups to launch pilots in Michigan

PlanetM awarded grants to HAAS Alert, Humanising Autonomy and RoadBotics to launch pilots that address real-world transportation challenges throughout Michigan as part of the PlanetM Startup Grant program. One of the first of its kind, the PlanetM Pilot Grants provide mobility startups funds to deploy and validate their technologies in Michigan.

“The PlanetM Pilot Grants bring innovative and practical solutions to critical mobility challenges facing Michigan residents, municipalities and institutions every single day,” said Amanda Roraff, operations manager of PlanetM, the state of Michigan’s mobility-focused brand and business development program. “The pilots in the program will have a meaningful impact on our communities and serve as a model for cities around the globe facing similar challenges.”


HAAS Alert

In partnership with Grand Rapids Police, Fire, and Life EMS, HAAS Alert will deploy a first-in-the-nation complete citywide digital alert solution. The pilot will test real-time notifications to drivers when responders are en route to a call or on-scene via Responder-to-Vehicle (R2V™) technology. HAAS Alert is also working with Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) ride share drivers to deliver safety messages.

“Collisions between emergency vehicles and civilian motorists is the leading cause of injury and death to first responders and can cost cities millions on average every time an incident occurs, of which there are more than 60,000 every year just in the U.S. alone,” said Cory Hohs, CEO of HAAS Alert. “We are looking forward to working with the State of Michigan and Grand Rapids to deliver a service that will aid motorists, public safety and other roadway operators alike in preventing collisions and saving lives. And, we are honored to bring service for the first time specifically to people who are deaf or hard of hearing and expect to learn a lot from the pilot.”

Humanising Autonomy

By building human-centered tools, Humanising Autonomy improves safety and efficiency of autonomous mobility systems through better understanding of human behavior. As part of their pilot, Humanising Autonomy will collaborate with Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority to test bus driver alerts in an effort to help predict pedestrian, cyclists and vulnerable road user actions.    

“We are thrilled about the award of the PlanetM Pilot Grant. This pilot will allow us to grow our product and customer base into the heart of the American mobility industry and apply our technology to improve the safety of public buses for pedestrians and vulnerable road users,” said Maya Pindeus, CEO and Co-Founder of Humanising Autonomy.


An infrastructure technology company, RoadBotics specializes in using artificial intelligence (AI) to generate automated pavement condition data. RoadBotics will use the grant to implement its AI pavement inspection technology into Detroit’s roads to analyze the condition of the City’s 2,600-mile road network and build a robust data-driven pavement management strategy for the City of Detroit. The program will help engineers determine where to objectively allocate resources and maximize investment. The City of Detroit will also use this data to expand its road asset database as part of its broader data-driven asset management strategy for the City's Right of Way. As part of the pilot, RoadBotics will also be testing its new crack-detection application.

“Detroit is the iconic American city of the automobile, which means that it’s also the epicenter for American road management. This is why it is so exciting that the City of Detroit will utilize our AI pavement inspection technology. By using machine learning to evaluate the pavement conditions, the resulting data we provide is highly objective, transparent and reliable for decision-making, said Mark DeSantis, CEO of RoadBotics. “It is most exciting that the support of PlanetM and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation is not only catalyzing the City of Detroit to receive this comprehensive assessment, but also enabling RoadBotics to deploy - for the first time - our brand new AI Maintenance (AIM) tool for unsealed cracks, which will assist Detroit’s preventative maintenance efforts and help extend the life of all their roads.”

Derq, a Dubai-and-Detroit-based traffic safety tech startup, received the first PlanetM Pilot Grant in June to pilot their technology in Detroit.

“This unique, collaborative approach helps the startups accelerate the path to commercialization and brings essential mobility technologies here to Michigan.” said Roraff. “This program further solidifies Michigan as the place to test, deploy and validate mobility technologies and we’re excited to welcome HAAS Alert, Humanising Autonomy and Roadbotics to Michigan’s robust mobility ecosystem.”


Global mobility startups can still apply for a PlanetM Startup Grant to test, validate and prove out new technologies on Michigan roadways or at one of Michigan’s testing facilities including American Center for Mobility, Mcity at the University of Michigan and Kettering University GM Mobility Research Center.

There will be two more rounds of Pilot Grant recipients this year. The deadline for round two is February 1 and the deadline for round three is June 1. PlanetM will review Testing Grant applications on a monthly basis until September 2019.

Learn more about the PlanetM Startup Grants at an upcoming informational session at 12 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11 at NextEnergy Detroit. Panelists from Michigan Department of Transportation, the American Center for Mobility, Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), Kettering University, and Derq, will join PlanetM to share insight about the program and application process. Click here to register to attend in person or via webinar.

To read the full press release, click here

MDOT announces winners for $8 Million Michigan Mobility Challenge

8MMC-Winner-Map-181004.jpgThe Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) recently announced the winners for the $8 Million Michigan Mobility Challenge. MDOT issued a call for innovative pilot transportation projects of varying sizes that can solve mobility gaps for seniors, persons with disabilities and veterans in urban, rural and suburban communities throughout the state of Michigan. 

In total, MDOT received 43 proposals, requesting nearly $27 million in funding. Of these, eight projects have been selected for full or partial funding in the first round, with the potential for more projects to be funded later in the year. Winners include:


The Challenge grants are being awarded to fund the demonstration of projects of varying sizes using new technology and innovative service models. The grants will be used to subsidize a portion of the cost to plan, deliver and monitor the demonstration services for a three- to six-month period, with the remaining costs being covered from fares, local contributions, and other funds. Projects are located in urban, rural and suburban communities of varying sizes throughout Michigan and will be coordinated with current services to enhance the existing transportation network in an area.

Unveiled at the 2018 Mackinac Policy Conference, the $8 Million Michigan Mobility Challenge is intended to engage the state's robust technology, startup and transportation networks, along with service providers, advocacy groups and state agencies, including MDOT, PlanetM/Michigan Economic Development Corp., the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, and the Bureau of Services to Blind Persons.

Detroit Summit Recap: Plug and Play partners with PlanetM to make industry connections and advance mobility

The Motor City recently hosted the Detroit Summit, an event that attracted companies and startups from near and far to the Little Cesar’s Arena. Hosted by Plug and Play, in partnership with PlanetM and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the Summit featured a pitch competition – which included Michigan startups LookingBus and May Mobility – 1:1 match meetings between startups and corporations, technology exhibitors, and more.

Headquartered in Silicon Valley, Plug and Play is a global innovation platform that offers accelerator programs and corporate innovation services. The company has partnered with more than 6,000 startups and 220 corporations and continues to cultivate an extensive startup ecosystem within a variety of industries. The partnership between PlanetM and Plug and Play to host the first-of-its-kind Detroit Summit was a natural fit to bring mobility startups, companies, and investors together to promote growth within one of Michigan’s leading industries.

“We are very excited to partner with PlanetM. Detroit remains the home of technology advances in the mobility space, and it is an obvious destination to expand Plug and Play’s global presence. We hope to bridge the gap between the software of Silicon Valley and the hardware of Detroit,” said Sobhan Khani, Vice President of Mobility at Plug and Play.

  Plug and Play summary by the numbers
attendees joined the Plug and Play Detroit Summit
   170+ 1:1 meetings were held between startups and corporate partners
   40+ startup, technology, and academic exhibitors showcased their innovative technologies
   25+ presentations from startups, keynotes, and in-state mobility partners

“This is a tremendous opportunity to work with Plug and Play to showcase Michigan’s robust mobility ecosystem,” said Trevor Pawl, Group Vice President of PlanetM. “From startups to automakers, the work being done in Michigan is leading today’s transportation revolution and putting Detroit at the epicenter of mobility innovation, testing, and deployment.”

2018 ITS Annual Meeting in Detroit

In June of 2018, Detroit will host the Intelligent Transpiration Society (ITS) of America’s 2018 Annual Meeting. At the event, experts and innovators from around the country representing a variety of industries will come together to advance the research and deployment of intelligent transportation technologies for a future of improved safety, mobility, and sustainability.

To highlight the city of Detroit and Michigan’s mobility and smart infrastructure industries preceding the event, leaders and experts from around the state contributed to the blog series Welcome to Motor City. Below are a few featured pieces that give a sneak peek into Michigan’s leadership in advancing transportation technologies.

To learn more about the ITS Annual Meeting, visit



Michigan's Governor Rick Snyder: Shaping the Next Transportation Frontier
Rick Snyder, Governor of the State of Michigan

Detroit recently launched a new campaign to let visitors know it is Go Time in Detroit. That message is also true of the innovation and collaboration that is happening in Detroit and across Michigan around the future of mobility.

We are proud to be the capital of the global automotive industry. While we are well known for putting the world on wheels more than a century ago, today we are committed to embracing a new legacy as a leader in the future of mobility. We call our mobility ecosystem — and the collective of initiatives it encompasses — PlanetM…

To continue reading, click here.


Amanda Roraff: Michigan Putting the World on Wheels
Amanda Roraff, Operations Manager for PlanetM

Perhaps by now, many of you probably have your tickets to the ITS America (ITSA) Annual Meeting in Detroit.

Think of your trip as a journey to PlanetM – the land where mobility is what we do 24/7. There’s no better place for conversations about the future of intelligent transportation. 

PlanetM is a campaign launched two years ago to elevate Michigan as the hub of mobility innovations, with a mission to grow high-profile business sectors. Our goal is to be the global center for mobility, autonomous vehicle technology development, testing and application.

Just as Michigan put the world on wheels, we believe our state stands at a historical threshold as the preeminent place for automakers, auto suppliers along with entrepreneurs and innovators who are leading the way in the mobility revolution…

To continue reading, click here.


Making Connections: Michigan's Mobility Business
Trevor Pawl, Vice President, PlanetM, International Trade & Procurement Programs, Michigan Economic Development Corporation

 I’m never surprised at being surprised.

That’s the feeling after watching the demos at the ITSA Annual Meeting.

And, this year, I know I’ll be blown away again by the impressive blend of creativity, engineering and technology on display.

In my role at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, I oversee three programs – PlanetM, Pure Michigan Business Connect, and International Trade. The emergence of mobility technologies and impact on the transportation industry will profoundly impact all three of these areas.

And, in Michigan, we’re not only up to the challenge, we have a plan in place to support innovation among entrepreneurs and businesses riding the wave of the transportation frontier…

To continue reading, click here


Innovation and Resurgence: Detroit
Eric Shreffler, Managing Director, Auto Office; Michigan Economic Development Corporation 

ITS America is a great place to hear from industry leaders on the current and future state of mobility technology. And, what’s more, it’s a great place to see some of those technologies in action.

Also, among the other great advantages is that ITS America is an ideal place to connect and foster relationships that will ensure future success. You’ll soon find out there is no better place to be than Detroit this June!

The Auto Office is very pleased to have supported some of the industry’s newest, most important centers for technology innovation. The American Center for Mobility in nearby Ypsilanti Township provides 500+ acres of purpose built, real-world testing of automated, connected and autonomous vehicle technologies. It is already one of the leading test centers in the world, and will continue to build out unique capabilities in the years ahead….

To continue reading, click here


PlanetM at the 2018 North American International Auto Show

In January PlanetM returned to Detroit for the 2018 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). With the strong emergence of more advanced and diverse connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technology than ever before in 2017, PlanetM took center stage with the best as entrepreneurs, academics, and industry experts came together in Michigan to look to the future of transportation.

For a second year in a row, PlanetM was the sponsor of AutoMobili-D, an event just below Cobo’s main floor that featured over 150,000 sq. ft. of new mobility technologies and solutions from 50 startups and Michigan universities. PlanetM also worked together with partners to hold the first ever Match Meetings that facilitated business-to-business meetings between startups and established auto companies, and hosted the inaugural PlanetM Awards to honor the innovations of mobility startups.

To learn more about these highlights from NAIAS 2018, click here


Why autonomous companies are moving to Detroit

By: Trevor Pawl, Group VP, Michigan Economic Development Corporation
Originally published on December 18, 2017 | LinkedIn

To view the original post, click here.

Detroit is no stranger to innovation. From the Model T to Motown, the Motor City is a place that has inspired and cultivated entrepreneurs and leading-edge thinking for more than 100 years.

That same pioneering spirit lives on today and is the driving force behind the city’s “autonomous” renaissance, as tech giants like Google and startups like Lunar Wireless and May Mobility are setting up shop in Michigan to tap into our world-class mobility ecosystem.

Who can blame them? Michigan leads the world in the development and integration of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV), with the most extensive system of test beds in the world and more projects than any other state in the country. The Detroit region is Michigan’s hub for mobility projects, with CAV test beds spread across the region, including University of Michigan’s Mcity and the American Center for Mobility.

It’s true Silicon Valley has been seen by many as the headquarters for innovation and disruption. But as the tech and auto converge, companies and entrepreneurs need more than the noisy, oversaturated market of the Valley in order to break through and grow – particularly for those focused on mobility.

In Detroit, mobility businesses have access to an enormous amount of resources just like the Valley – and then some. The state is not only committed to embracing the future of mobility and fostering the evolution of connected and self-driving vehicle technology, but Detroit is the epicenter of the global automotive industry. 

That’s why we launched PlanetM, a partnership of the State of Michigan, mobility companies, communities, educational institutions, research and development, and government agencies that are working together to develop and deploy the mobility technologies driving the future. PlanetM offers concierge services for any mobility-focused company or investor to plug into Michigan’s automotive expertise.

To boot, we recently partnered with the Detroit Regional Chamber and WeWork to form the PlanetM Landing Zone in downtown Detroit – a unique space where mobility startups can connect with Detroit’s automotive and economic development network. Companies already in the space include Ford, SPLT, DriveSmart, Bosch, Spatial and Mapbox.

PlanetM is also working to educate venture capital (VC) firms about our mobility ecosystem. So far, we have made over 350 connections between out of state VCs with OEMs, tier ones, local VCs, government organizations, universities and startups.

Thanks to these efforts, Detroit is becoming a hot spot for entrepreneurs who are looking for a vibrant city to launch and grow their companies. According to the 2017 Detroit Entrepreneurial Study, there has been a 50 percent increase in the number of Detroit-based startup companies over the past three years and in just the last year 14 startups in Detroit received more than $62 million from venture capital firms.

With its focus on the future, vast resources and assets, and the city’s cultural legacy and spirit of innovation, there is no question that Detroit is the city of mobility – making it the ideal location for any company interested in driving the next generation of transportation.

If you’re interested in learning more about Detroit’s mobility ecosystem or PlanetM, feel free to visit


Intelligent Vehicle Testing Symposium

Global Policy, Regulation and Standards


The MEDC auto team in partnership with ITS America convened a global symposium to discuss proactive policy, regulations and standards surrounding the testing and validation of new intelligent vehicle technologies during the ITS World Congress in Montreal. The all-day, invitation-only symposium took place on November 1st and featured presentations and discussions by key leaders of testing initiatives and facilities from 10 countries. To view the full symposium agenda, click here

The main goal of the event was to initiate an actionable and sustainable conversation on harmonizing global policy, regulations and standards to help accelerate the worldwide implementation of connected and automated vehicle technologies. Based on the positive response we have received from participants, the MEDC Automotive office will convene follow-up conversation during ITS America in Detroit in June and The 2018 World Congress to be held September 17-21 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Presentations and a video of the November 1, 2017 proceedings are posted below. If you are a leader of a CAV testing initiative or facility and want to be a part of future events, please contact Susan Proctor, Strategic Initiatives Director, Automotive Office, Michigan Economic Development Corporation.















Coverage of ITS World Congress 2017

At ITS gathering in Montreal, innovative thinkers from around the world imagine futuristic scenarios that are not so far off; welcome mat extended to visit PlanetM. For more coverage of ITS World Congress, click here