Optimus Ride – Polaris Partnership
Polaris is expanding their partnership with Boston-based Optimus Ride to manufacturer autonomous vehicles. Optimus Ride has been slowly rolling out autonomous low-speed vehicle services based on the Polaris Gem. Previously, Optimus modified the GEMs, about 30 in total. Under the expanded partnership, a GEM specifically designed for driverless, autonomous driving will be developed with Polaris and be ready for the second half of 2023 according to Optimus management. The GEM vehicles fall under the Polaris Commercial business division.
Optimus Ride Autonomous Vehicle Background
Optimus Ride started in 2015 and has been proving its’ autonomous vehicle technology since then. Their service has been operating in a number of environments with routes that are relatively short and predictable. The routes are typically 1 to 3 miles with either fixed-route or on-demand services. The vehicles are all low speed vehicles and to date have also featured a safety driver. For example, the company operates a fixed-route autonomous vehicle service at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. In February, 2021 they announced a new service at TheYards waterfront development in Washington DC. Residents and tenants will use the Opti Ride app to schedule on-demand rides. These localized trips in developments, downtown areas and college and corporate campuses overlap significantly with the existing target market for the Polaris GEM product line.
This is another sign of Polaris moving towards electrification as well as positioning the company in the micro mobility space. It is also a great way to protect their existing GEM market position in places like college and corporate campuses. These markets are likely to be at the forefront of these limited scope, autonomous vehicle use cases. Now Polaris, through Optimus Ride, will be able to offer their existing customers the next generation of vehicle technology. At the same time, the partnership will likely open up new commercial markets for Polaris.
Marc Cesare, Smallvehicleresource.com