RIDOT Begins Testing for Autonomous Vehicle Pilot Project

Thursday, February 21, 2019

 

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The Little Roady Shuttle PHOTO: RIDOT

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation kicked off testing for the autonomous vehicle pilot project with a demonstration at Quonset Business Park on Wednesday.

"This is a very exciting day as we kick-off testing of autonomous vehicles, putting Rhode Island on the map as a leader in this new high-tech field in transportation. And we'll do it in a careful and safe manner partnering with institutions of higher education to carefully study and evaluate the service and its integration on Rhode Island roads,” said Governor Gina Raimondo.

The vehicles are being tested this week on low-volume roads in the park as the beginning phase of a pilot project scheduled to launch in Providence in the spring of 2019. 

The testing period in Quonset will be followed by similar testing in Providence, prior to the start of service.

Between the two locations, the vehicles will undergo 500 miles of testing.

Autonomous Vehicles in RI

The debut of the autonomous vehicles is the latest step in the Rhode Island Transportation Innovation Partnership (TRIP), which RIDOT launched in 2017.

TRIP also includes a research component, with the goal of studying autonomous mobility solutions, ridership, workforce impacts, environmental impacts, and technology adoption, among others.

"This project gives us the opportunity to gain first-hand experience with this new technology and that information will be invaluable when we look ahead to the impact that autonomous vehicles will have on public transportation in the future. Having some of our bus operators ride the shuttle routes is also going to allow them to share important feedback on the role of on-board personnel and passenger needs,” said Scott Avedisian, CEO of the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA).

Called the Little Roady Shuttle, each vehicle is fully electric and capable of carrying five passengers as well as an attendant who is trained on how to operate the vehicle manually if needed.

Up to six vehicles will be on the road at the same time, operating on low-speed roads along a 5-mile route along the Woonasquatucket River corridor with 12 stops, from Olneyville to Providence Station.

The Little Roady shuttles are provided by May Mobility, Inc., which entered into a public-private partnership with RIDOT last fall.

 

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