By on May 16, 2019

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]

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38 Comments on “It’s My First Day: Self-driving Mobility Shuttle Pulled Over in Rhode Island...”

  • avatar

    This article reads like a salon clickbait article. Being pulled over so the cop can check out a cool/different/unusual car is not unusual, I was pulled over 3 times after I bought my H2 new, every time it was a friendly hello, while we’re here let’s check this truck out type deal.
    H1 HMCO once and Holden once now. I would be pulled over multiple times every time I leave the house in the Holden if every citizen had blue lights

    • 0 avatar

      And you think that’s OK?

      • 0 avatar

        Absolutely, I’m always happy to talk with our finest and let them know I appreciate their service. They have a difficult job and letting them know their community and citizens support them goes a long way. I’m always happy to take the time and talk.

        • 0 avatar

          Being pulled over by the police is dangerous to the motorist — and the police officer.

          Remember, all police are armed, and some citizens are. All it takes is one of the armed parties to lose his or her cool before it turns into a gunfight. Videos of armed police officers freaking out and hurting/killing unarmed motorists hit the news regularly — and people credibly claim it happens the other way even more frequently.

          It’s best to minimize everyone’s exposure to this by eliminating pointless traffic stops — for the safety of all involved. When every traffic stop is treated as a combat situation just-in-case, the logical way to ensure everyone’s safety is to minimize the number of traffic stops.

          • 0 avatar

            That is simply dumb, you act like the police are pariahs. Who cares if they have guns and if I have a gun that’s just cause for a friendly chat about guns. Frankly I think from your post you treat police as a public safety issue. Treating them as an issue is why tension is as high as it is now.

          • 0 avatar

            That is simply ridiculous, you act like the police are pariahs. Who cares if they have guns and if I have a gun that’s just cause for a friendly chat about guns. Frankly I think from your post you treat police as a public safety issue. Treating them as an issue is why tension is as high as it is now.
            The majority of people in this country are armed any given day, police don’t “freak out” for no reason – any credible threats must be taken seriously.
            Unless you are acting suspicious or strange, police are happy to chat just like anyone else.

          • 0 avatar

            Where do you live. Is it kind of war zone area like Chicago or Detroit? In our area police is very friendly and always ready to help and no one carries weapons.

          • 0 avatar

            Fear mongering. The media likes to hype such events because it’s exciting, not because it’s boring. The only time the officer should be hands-on with his weapon is if he has reason to be concerned, by how the vehicle he’s stopping is traveling; how the driver is acting behind the wheel, etc. There are signals that the officer learns to recognize so he can be prepared for trouble if necessary. If you’re driving normally, a traffic stop is nothing to fear by either party and can be a personal boost to either or both if you allow it.

          • 0 avatar

            Someone bought Obama’s lies about law enforcement.

        • 0 avatar

          Baloney. A good part of my family is in law enforcement and no sane officer does a traffic stop just to chat about cars and guns (or anything). In a parking lot, maybe. On the road, never.

          • 0 avatar

            In some communities, certain types of vehicles are not road-legal. This thing looks more like a corporate in-house shuttle rather than one intended for city streets. For all we know, this specific officer knew the service was coming but expected it to be more Uber-like rather than a purpose-built vehicle. Not every traffic cop is as car-centric as we are.

  • avatar
    Stanley Steamer

    “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.”

    It’s obvious what happened; the meetings all occurred coincidentally on one of the 15 paid sick days the officer took (this is RI) last month and decided to inconvenience everybody (this is RI) to satisfy his ignorant self.

  • avatar

    How does one go about pulling over an autonomous vehicle?

    Also, I’ll have to be on the lookout for these next time I’m in Detroit.

  • avatar

    Saw one of these in Ann Arbor last month. It was the second car in line at a traffic light, light turns green, first car goes. The MAY moved forward 2 feet and stopped, moved forward 2 feet and stopped. It did not make it before the light turned red. Good Stuff!

    • 0 avatar

      Hmmm..had I been the first car behind it, much honking would have ensued, along with a generous helping of obscene gestures and much profanity!

      One wonders if the safety driver can take control in that sort of situation?

      • 0 avatar

        Yes the safety attendant can push a button and take control of the vehicle.

        A former student of mine/friend of my son works for May Mobility and is one of the programmers. I was in Detroit a couple of week ago and met up with him. They were giving rides so I and 4 of my current students went for a spin. It was a extra vehicle on the run from the Quicken Loans building to the parking garage several blocks away, just for the demo day. Since we were going for the loop he took control, got us past the stop at the garage and then turned it back over to the vehicle. He also took control and went around a car that was attempting to parallel park.

      • 0 avatar

        If there are obscene gestures and profanity directed at me when I am driving, I simply slow down a little more. It never hurts someone to take a little time to enjoy nature as you drive by. Look at the flowers and appreciate the beauty. by the way I do drive at or above the speed limit except when obscenity and profanity slow me down.

        • 0 avatar

          I was speaking out of frustration based upon having to possibly sit through several light cycles because of one vehicle! If the car isn’t “behaving” properly, the safety driver should intervene!

          There were two stoplights in my town that were re-timed and re-sequenced such that the wait was two minutes long, and worse, the green interval on the “cross streets” were less than fifteen seconds! If you were first in line, and didn’t GO the instant the light went green, you could maybe get three cars through per cycle! It took me fifteen minutes to get through one such intersection one time! And I wasn’t the only one who blasted the horn if they were going to have to sit and stew for a few more unnecessary minutes because of someone’s inattentiveness!

          The cycles were lessened a bit earlier this year, so it’s only about a minute wait. But the short greens are still there, so the timing on the main street was cut a little.

    • 0 avatar

      It “May” offer mobility, or it “May” not!

    • 0 avatar

      These AVs need an “aggressively move out and play chicken with selfish a-hole human drivers” mode. There’s an intersection I use every day where a fast suburban road intersects with a freeway on/off ramp. Everyone using the intersection is suffering from velocitization and entitlement: they all roll through the stop and go out of order, and everyone is flipping each other off and honking. It’s one of those situations where the city should either go to a traffic light or a roundabout, but won’t because the intersection flows a lot of cars as-is…just at the cost of fraught tempers and near-misses.

  • avatar

    That’s how three row Smart SUV will look like. Or it a new Smart SUV?

  • avatar

    I’m not overly emotional about cars but it being an appliance does not excuse how stunningly ugly it is.

    Look at it if you dare. Now scroll down the page to the Pantera.

    Newer is not always better. Just IMO…..

    • 0 avatar

      Pantera can’t carry 6 people either and it’s easily larger in footprint than this thing. There is a time and place for a Pantera and serving as a shuttle in heavy traffic is not one of them..

  • avatar

    I used to live in a country where a police officer had to have “probable cause” that a crime had been committed in order to detain a citizen.

    Apparently, that’s no longer true.

  • avatar

    Honestly, if I were a cop I’d pull a vehicle like that over just to make sure it’s road-legal. It looks bizarre, has no front license plate, probably moves slowly and a bit erratically, etc.

  • avatar

    If you have to have a “safety attendant” on board to take control at a moment’s notice, what does it really gain you? You’re still paying someone who most likely has to be qualified to drive it anyways.

  • avatar

    It was in the early eighties, but I got pulled over by a cop who wanted to talk to me about my Honda CBX. He’d never seen a six cylinder motorcycle before. I was sweating a bit because it was too easy to go faster than expected on that bike.

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