Deemed the Little Roady Pilot Project and provided by May Mobility, headquartered in Michigan, these electric minibuses are offering free rides on the longest public transit route for self driving vehicles in the country! Providence is way ahead of the curve in this exciting technology initiative.
2020 Update: May Mobility is not currently running routes in Providence.
The autonomous fleet is used to collect data to help improve the transportation system for the community and was released for public use after 500 hours of vehicle testing in all weather conditions. Numerous sensors provide the shuttles with a 360-degree view of the street, waiting pedestrians, stop lights, and a path to steer along a low-traffic service route. They are slow moving for safety purposes and won’t go over 25 mph.
Each shuttle has a total of 6 seats, with 5 for passengers plus the Fleet Attendant. Fleet Attendants are aboard the shuttle to monitor its activity, collect data and intervene to assist the robot pilots, for example, when they wait too long at busy left turn signals.
The 5.3 mile, 20-minute route has 12 stops along the West End and Woonasquatucket River Corridor to downtown Providence and back again. One of the stops is at Rising Sun Mills directly on Sprout CoWorking’s doorstep! The Shuttle began May 15, 2019 and will run until May 2020, seven days a week from 6:30 am to 6:30 pm, excluding Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.
[Map via http://www.dot.ri.gov/projects/trip/LittleRoady.php. A live feed of the Little Roady Shuttles’ locations is available here as well.]
A shuttle will arrive every 10-15 minutes on the route. Look for stop signage and a green marking along the curb to indicate shuttle stops. Anyone can get on at the designated stop locations without signing up in advance. Vehicles only stop at designated spots, not on demand.
Young children, babies, and toddlers require an adult to provide and install a safety seat. Kids under 18 can ride too, as long as they are with an adult 18 and older. The vehicles are wheelchair accessible with 24-hour notice through RIPTA’s paratransit service. Riders looking for accessibility can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call customer service at 1-855-351-4544.
Let us know if you ride one and what you think!
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