Rhode Island to Test Self-Driving Shuttle Service

Rhode Island will launch a pilot program next week in Providence to test a self-driving shuttle van.

The program will use specially equipped vans supplied by Ann Arbor, Mich.-based May Mobility Inc. The vehicles can carry six people, including a backup driver who can take control if necessary.

The service will make 12 stops in Providence between downtown and the city’s Olneyville neighborhood. Currently there is no public transportation offered along the full route.

Riders can use the service for free during the first year of operation. Rhode Island awarded May Mobility a one-year, $800,000 contract in December for the service, with an option of renewing for another two years.

May Mobility already operates pilot programs in Detroit and Columbus, Ohio. Last year, the company announced a partnership with Canada’s Magna International Inc., which is providing its autonomous vehicle technology for the vans. BMW and Toyota previously have invested in the Michigan startup company.