Little Roady autonomous vehicle pilot project begins service in Providence, Rhode Island

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The Little Roady autonomous vehicle pilot project in Providence, Rhode Island went into service on Wednesday, May 15. 

Launched with the intent to evaluate autonomous mobility technology, the research project, which is offering free service to riders, will help the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) “better understand the opportunities and challenges that come with integrating this new technology into RIDOT's transportation planning,” the department says.

RIDOT adds that the research will help improve transit, and provide information for communities, the workforce, and policymakers.

“It's always exciting when Rhode Island has an opportunity to lead the way in cutting-edge green technology,” says Governor Gina Raimondo.

“This project will provide valuable data for states across the country as we move beyond conventional transit services to provide better, cleaner, and more accessible transportation for all.”

Operating seven days a week, from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., the service will have 12 stops. RIDOT says that the shuttles will run on a continuous, 5.3-mile loop on low-speed roads with an average wait time of about 10 minutes. Trip time will be about 20-25 minutes each way from the first stop to the last stop.

“The kickoff of this service and research project is another achievement for the new DOT,” says RIDOT Director Peter Alviti, Jr.

“Our transportation agency has literally been rebuilt to effectively deliver safer roads and bridges while simultaneously studying and piloting new technologies. In doing so, we'll keep Rhode Island well ahead of the curve for the transportation solutions of tomorrow.”

May Mobility Inc. has provided the shuttles for the project. Equipped with a suite of sensors and intelligent software, the shuttles understand their environment and how to safely navigate through it. According to RIDOT, the entire fleet has undergone 500 hours of testing, which included detailed mapping so that the shuttles know every inch of their route, and how to operate in various traffic and weather conditions.

“By partnering with RIDOT, May Mobility is showing how our self-driving shuttles can be part of a sustainable future for communities,” says Edwin Olson, CEO and founder of May Mobility.

“Our environmentally-friendly shuttles aren't just fun-to-ride, they can increase access and convenience for a large number of people.”