By Catherine Kennedy ’22
When an entrepreneur discovers a passion for improving the world, the impact can be significant. Case in point: LMU alums Jordan Justus ’17 (Entrepreneurship) and Harris Lummis ’18 (Computer Science) teamed up to address the environmental impact of curbside activity, thereby changing the energy and urban planning landscape as we know it.
Since the pandemic began, curbside parking spaces have all but disappeared. Remote workers, commercial vehicle operators and delivery drivers are now competing for parking spaces, which have not increased to meet demand. With a 43% increase in e-commerce during the pandemic, curbsides are more chaotic than ever as existing systems are unequipped to accommodate commercial parking.
Spotting this growing issue, Jordan and Harris combined their entrepreneurial and engineering talents to launch Automotus, a curb-management start-up that helps cities, fleet operators and businesses increase revenue while making streets less congested, more sustainable and more equitable.
Employing high-tech computer vision and API to remotely monitor parking zones, Automotus ensures that spaces designated for zero-emission vehicles and commercial drivers are made more efficient and accessible. Through Automotus’ comprehensive analytics, drivers can get a sense of curbside activity, automate their parking payment and even check spot availability in real time.
Jordan and Harris first launched Automotus in 2017 during their senior year at LMU. They were classmates in an interdisciplinary course called “Internet of Things (IoT)” with students from both CBA and Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering. According to a TechCrunch article, initial testing of the start-up on the LMU campus revealed that parking enforcement efficiency and revenue increased by more than 500%. The technology also spurred a 24% rise in parking turnover and a reduction in campus traffic congestion by 20%. That was enough data to give the company some momentum.
Since then, Automotus has grown its diverse team, assembled an advisory board and solidified partnerships with City of Santa Monica, LADOT and City of Pittsburgh. In July, the company was selected by the U.S. Department of Energy as one of 24 research and development projects making advancements in zero-emissions vehicles and awarded nearly $4M in funding. The grant will help Automotus expand into new markets and advance zero emissions delivery across the country.
“We were awarded the first U.S. Department of Energy grant for a curb management project EVER!” said CEO Jordan Justus. “This is a huge vote of confidence for our solutions and the critical role they play in helping cities reduce emissions and create more equitable streets.”
Jordan and Harris are incredibly grateful to their project team lead Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), as well as National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Carnegie Mellon University, METRANS Transportation Consortium and Southern California Association of Governments for their work on this winning proposal.
“Jordan and Harris are building one of the leading cleantech companies in Los Angeles and we are so proud of their work ethic, vision and resilience,” said David Choi, Conrad N. Hilton Chair of Entrepreneurship at LMU. “They are truly living the CBA mission and using business as a force for good to make a positive impact across the country.”