May Mobility launches self-driving shuttle service in the Motor CityInitial route connects a parking garage with offices.

In the shadow of one of the largest automakers in the world, a small startup is taking some of the first steps toward making the much hyped, much ballyhooed self-driving future a reality.

May Mobility, a provider of self-driving shuttles, is launching service along a dedicated route in downtown Detroit. Beginning June 27, the company started using five of its six-passenger electric vehicles to ferry commuters from a parking garage to their nearby offices under autonomous control.

For now, the shuttles only serve employees of Bedrock, a commercial real-estate firm owned by Quicken Loans magnate Dan Gilbert. But this is the first phase in an expected expansion from one route to many throughout the city. Broadly, the company’s founders tout the shuttles as a means to help solve the long-standing transportation challenge of connecting commuters to their final destinations. They also tout it as a full-fledged service that has graduated from the experimental ranks of similar endeavors.

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