The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) has awarded a contract to self-driving shuttle developer May Mobility for a controlled automated vehicle service, after a competitive bidding process that began earlier this year.
During the automated vehicle pilot service, which will be free of charge and available to the public for a year, RIDOT will conduct testing and research to better understand the potential new technology has to improve mobility for Rhode Islanders. The service will link downtown Providence and Olyneyville along the Woonasquatucket River Corridor.
"This new technology has real potential to provide safe, convenient transportation options and enhance our state's public transit system."
“Now that we are well underway in executing the Governor's RhodeWorks program, we are able to focus on improving our transportation system - and that includes pilot programs like this to look at how to safely integrate new technology into our planning in a very careful, measured manner,” said RIDOT Director Peter Alviti.
The programme’s study and testing phase will involve small autonomous shuttles with capacity for six people, supplied by May Mobility. The fully electric shuttles will support the state’s environmental and emissions reductions goals, according to RIDOT.
While the exact hours of operation are yet to be announced, RIDOT and May Mobility will develop a public education campaign to raise awareness of the service.
“Our goal is to allow people to drive less and live more by making transportation more accessible and convenient for all,” said May Mobility CEO Edwin Olson.
“We’re thrilled to be partnering with RIDOT where our service will connect multiple communities both to each other and to mass transit - creating opportunities with a service that riders are going to love.”
Scott Avedisian, CEO of the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA), said: “RIPTA is pleased to be a partner in our state’s first autonomous transit pilot. This new technology has real potential to provide safe, convenient transportation options and enhance our state's public transit system.”