PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — If you’re out and about in Providence in the coming days you may notice some people riding around in revolutionary technology.
A fleet of six “Little Roady” autonomous transport shuttles will go into service on Wednesday, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) announced Tuesday.
The shuttles function like any other vehicle – stopping at lights, waiting at crosswalks, and breaking for any unexpected hazards such as jaywalkers. They have 30 different sensors, radars and cameras that allow them to see a full 360 degrees.
The free, experimental service will operate seven days a week with 12 stops between Providence Station and Olneyville Square. RIDOT Director Peter Alviti said those five miles represent the longest public transit route for self-driving vehicles in the country.
Gov. Gina Raimondo was among the first group of Rhode Islanders to take the shuttles for a spin.
The vehicles, provided by Michigan-based May Mobility, underwent 500 miles of safety testing in Providence and North Kingstown prior to being put online.
They can accommodate up to five passengers along with a “fleet attendant,” who will assist new riders and be able to take over the shuttle’s controls, if necessary.
The pilot program also serves as a research project to study the feasibility of self-driving cars.