Government’s Autonomous Vehicles: The Driver Just Doesn’t Drive


Yeah, this program kind of misses the point of autonomous vehicles:

The [May Mobility] shuttles will run between downtown Providence and Olneyville via the Woonasquatucket (woo-NAH’-squaw-tuck-ett) River corridor. There’s currently no public transit along the full route. …

Each vehicle holds six people, including an attendant who’ll have the ability to fully control the shuttle at any time to ensure safety.

The state’s news release provides more information, although not much more detail.  Oddly, that includes the expression of concerns from the bus drivers’ union, which isn’t the sort of content one generally gets from a promotional government statement.

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Each of these shuttles will be too small even to carry two three-person families, because one-sixth of its capacity will be taken up (essentially) by a driver who isn’t driving.  This might be why we don’t tend to allot our cutting-edge work to government.

Wasn’t there anything else on which the state could spend half a million dollars it shook down from Volkswagen?


Featured image from promotional video on May Mobility’s Web site.

  • Christopher C. Reed

    Whatchu wanna bet they could cut a deal with Uber/Lyft to subsidize pickups at point A (Amtrak) and dropoffs at point B (Olneyville)? Would $800,000 sweeten the pot?
    Too simple, too easy for government work.
    Driverless is way not ready for primetime. Best to wait for Uber/Google to get it right (and suck up some of the liability.)