PROVIDENCE, R.I.—Self-driving shuttle company May Mobility continues to expand its operations.
The startup launched service May 15 in Providence, where it will run its six-passenger electric shuttles seven days a week and serve as a key link between a transit station and downtown Providence.
Shuttles operating as part of the Little Roady pilot program are free and open to the public. Rhode Island is paying May Mobility $800,000 for the first year of operations. The shuttles will make 12 stops along a route that spans approximately 6 miles, the company's longest to date.
"We're looking forward to connecting quite a bit of the city together," said Alisyn Malek, the company's chief operating officer. "We've got people on the ground now, and others are seeing our vehicles as we get ready to scale up."
May Mobility doesn't sell vehicles outright to vendors. Instead, it owns its fleet and handles all oversight and maintenance. Human safety drivers remain behind the wheel of all its vehicles. The company closed a Series A funding round valued at $22 million in February.
Providence will be the third U.S. city in which May Mobility operates its self-driving shuttles. In June 2018, it became the first autonomous vehicle company to launch commercial operations, working with the Bedrock real estate firm in Detroit to connect parking garages and downtown offices.
In February, May Mobility began operating shuttles in Columbus, Ohio, with similar goals of connecting commuters with their offices in mind. Service in Grand Rapids, Mich., is slated to begin this summer.
Connecting an Amtrak station with downtown Providence, along with the Olneyville Square neighborhood, will be the first time May Mobility serves as a connector between public transit and a city, an aspect of the deployment the company is eager to explore.
Commuters "need the ability to get into the city where their actual job destination is," Malek said. "They can use the May Mobility shuttle to get to their jobs and connect with different bus lines. It shows the role autonomy can play even today. It's not ready for everything, but even today, we can come in and solve some of these challenges."