Tire-making giant Bridgestone has taken a minority stake in May Mobility, a Michigan-based autonomous shuttle startup, marking yet another investment into an autonomous vehicle startup.
Bridgestone has previously collaborated with Swedish autonomous freight technology startup Einride to find sustainable mobility solutions for electrified, autonomous trucking and thrown its weight behind Kodiak Robotics, an autonomous trucking startup.
Bridgestone also recently announced partnerships with Yoshi, a last-mile delivery platform focused on car care services, and Tyrata, a tire sensor and data management company. Like its other recent strategic investments, Bridgestone did not share how much stake it holds in May Mobility.
Bridgestone’s partnership with May Mobility will see the AV startup integrate Bridgestone’s predictive tire wear modeling technology into its vehicles later this year. Bridgestone’s in-wheel sensors and predictive algorithms monitor the health of tires, including tire pressure, temperature and tread wear, which will ultimately help May reduce the total cost of AV ownership and improve fleet safety, according to a May spokesperson. Through this integration, Bridgestone will also gain insights into AV operations to improve its core tire products.
“Our future plans to integrate the Bridgestone suite of predictive maintenance insights will help ensure that May Mobility vehicles operate even more safely, efficiently and sustainably,” Brian Goldstine, president of mobility solutions and fleet management for Bridgestone Americas, said in a statement.
May Mobility also expects to improve business performance through the use of Bridgestone’s cloud-based fleet mobility solution, Azuga, which Bridgestone acquired last year. Azuga brings fleet management, camera intelligence and route planning features to May’s capabilities.
May operates its low-speed AVs geared toward augmenting public transit, rather than the robotaxi model of Waymo and Cruise, in five cities, including Hiroshima, Japan. Last year, May launched an on-demand, autonomous shuttle service with transit tech company Via in Arlington, Texas; and Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The company, which plans to convert its fleet from hybrid Lexus SUVs to hybrid Toyota Sienna minivans, raised an $83 million Series C earlier this year, money May will use to help it scale across the U.S. and Japan in the hopes of becoming profitable.
To support May’s planned expansion, Bridgestone also will provide the startup’s AVs with service and maintenance support through its retail stores under the brand names Firestone Complete Auto Care, Tires Plus, Hibdon Tires Plus and Wheel Works, as well as Firestone Direct, Bridgestone’s mobile service provider.
“The ability to operate and service vehicles using Bridgestone’s 2,200 nationwide stores gives May Mobility an unmatched ability to scale across the country,” Edwin Olson, CEO of May Mobility, said in a statement. “This collaboration builds upon our shared mission of providing safe and sustainable mobility solutions on a global scale.”