Rhode Island kicks off self-driving shuttles

February 20, 2019
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People view a new self-driving shuttle, one of a fleet of vehicles unveiled by May Mobility at the Quonset Business Park in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019, in North Kingstown, R.I. Rhode Island's transportation department has awarded the company a $800,000 contract to operate an autonomous shuttle service on a 5-mile loop in Providence starting this spring. (AP Photo/Matt O'Brien)

NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (AP) — The operator of Rhode Island’s first self-driving shuttle service says it will be the first in the U.S. to integrate with public mass transit.

Edwin Olson, CEO of Michigan startup May Mobility, unveiled the new fleet at a kickoff event Wednesday. It’s nicknamed the Little Roady.

The company is testing the electric shuttles in the Quonset Business Park before moving them to Providence streets this spring.

The state Department of Transportation awarded the company an $800,000 contract to run the low-speed shuttles on a 5-mile loop underserved by public buses. It will connect several neighborhoods to Providence’s train station.

Each vehicle holds six people, including an attendant who’ll have the ability to fully control the shuttle at any time to ensure safety.

The service will be free for a year.