Self-driving shuttle company May Mobility expanded its operations to include Rhode Island this week. The state agreed to pay the firm $800,000 for the first year of operations, allowing it to get its six-passenger micro shuttles running between an Amtrak station and downtown Providence as part of an ongoing pilot program.
However, one of the shuttles was pulled over just hours after entering service for a rather baffling reason.
Apparently, the officer who initiated the stop just wanted to have a look at the vehicle. Given that May Mobility spent the greater part of the last month ensuring the shuttle was plastered all over local media, we’re left wondering how this particular law enforcement official could have possibly missed the memo.
According to Automotive News, Lindsay Lague, a public information officer for the office of public safety in Providence, said the officer in question issued no tickets or warnings to the safety attendant inside the autonomous vehicle. “Given the fact that the shuttle service just kicked off this morning,” she said, “the officer was not familiar with the odd-looking vehicle.”
“As part of our debut in Providence, we’ve spent the last month meeting with public safety officials and community leaders to introduce them to our service,” Alisyn Malek, May Mobility’s co-founder and COO, said in a statement. “Our goal is to educate the broader community about May Mobility’s shuttle, so they will start to see us as part of their transportation options.”
She said that people are naturally curious when they see one of the green-and-white shuttles, adding, adding, “We welcome that interest.”
If you’ve never seen one in action — which is likely, as they currently operate in a select number of U.S. cities — May Mobility’s are rather striking. But they’re also riddled with corporate branding, leaving us to wonder what exactly got the officer so worked up. Surely they could have radioed in to ask what the shuttle was doing. Was this a city-sponsored publicity stunt, a case of an officer with nothing better to do, or a cover-up for some minor autonomous snafu? We haven’t the slightest, but Providence maintains that the officer’s curiosity simply got the better of him.
Currently, May Mobility operates shuttles in Detroit, Michigan, and Columbus, Ohio. Service in Providence launched on Wednesday and will be free to passengers for one year. Service in Grand Rapids, Michigan is slated to commence this summer.
[Images: May Mobility]