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Virus-Killing Rays: Self-driving car companies are experimenting with UV-light emitters

Grand Rapids, Michigan — A pair of self-driving car startups are offering a solution to concern over germs and ride sharing during the pandemic.

Voyage and May Mobility are two autonomous-vehicle companies that charge riders to go on simple, specialized routes. The companies are beginning to put UV-light emitters in their shuttles to help keep their services running amid the pandemic. 

The rays are already being used in ambulances and can destroy viruses, fungus and bacteria between rides. 

Voyage is putting the UV system in its third-generation vehicle, a retrofitted Chrysler Pacifica minivan, that costs half as much as previous models. The cheaper cost also helps to make the $2,000 added cost of the UV system more reasonable. The new vehicle can also run safely without a driver. 

Other ride sharing companies have begun to put precautions in place to protect their passengers amid the pandemic. Avis Budget Group Inc. has partnered with Lysol maker Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc to boost disinfection protocols for its rental cars. Uber and Lyft have also taken steps to protect their passengers and are transporting far fewer people. 

May Mobility will resume its service downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, on August 31 after it suspended service in March. The 3.2 mile route has 20 stops on each side of the Grand River that runs through the city and connects downtown to two business districts. 

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