Motown mobility: Detroit proves ideal for new mobility concepts

A lack of public transportation solutions means Detroit is crying out for MaaS – combined with its automotive legacy, the Motor City is fertile ground for mobility innovation. By Xavier Boucherat

The tech revolution within the automotive sector, and the resulting focus on autonomy and Mobility as a Service (MaaS), might appear to have left Detroit, long the spiritual home of the North American automotive industry, a little displaced. The entrance of Apple, Uber and other tech giants has put the spotlight elsewhere, such as California, and states such as Arizona which have gained notoriety for their permissive self-driving regulations. Meanwhile, attendance numbers at the North American International Automotive Show (NAIAS) have fallen off in recent years, and some automakers have even abandoned the show to focus on seemingly more relevant events, such as CES in Las Vegas – a showcase for autonomy and MaaS.

Appearances can be deceptive, however: in any case, it seems unthinkable that the Big Three would write off their hometown. A solid supply base coupled with plentiful expertise means the Detroit area remains an important location as mobility evolves. Indeed, some argue it leads on the subject: According to PlanetM, a Detroit-based partnership of mobility stakeholders and organisations, Michigan has the most patents related to navigation and smart mobility projects in the country, and is also home to its largest deployment of Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I) technology, with sensors and cameras on around 120 miles (193km) of streets and freeway.

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