PROVIDENCE, R.I. (FOX 5 NY) - A Rhode Island police officer intrigued by an odd-looking vehicle on the road Wednesday morning hit his police cruiser's siren and flashing lights and then pulled over the contraption. The vehicle turned out to be a self-driving mini-bus on its very first day carrying riders around an area of Providence on behalf of the state's Department of Transportation.
The officer had never seen an autonomous vehicle before, according to Providence Police Chief Hugh Clements, so he stopped it near Olneyville Square.
"It looked like an oversize golf cart," Clements said, according to the AP.
The shuttle is part of a new pilot program funded by the state and operated by a Michigan-based company called May Mobility. The service, nicknamed Little Roady, will operate seven days a week from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., making a dozen stops along a 5.3‐mile loop, according to a press release.
While this officer was not familiar with the so-called robot vehicle, May Mobility's co-founder and chief operating officer said that staffers have been meeting with public safety officials and community leaders in Providence for the past month to introduce them to the concept.
"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," co-founder Alisyn Malek said in a statement emailed to FOX 5 NY. "People are curious about the shuttle the first time they see it. We welcome that interest and hope they take a ride to try it for themselves."
Each Little Roady shuttle, which is fully electric, carries six people, including the attendant, who monitors the system and takes control in certain circumstances.
"It's always exciting when Rhode Island has an opportunity to lead the way in cutting‐edge green technology," Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo said in a statement. "This project will provide valuable data for states across the country as we move beyond conventional transit services to provide better, cleaner, and more accessible transportation for all."
In Wednesday's traffic stop, the police officer ended up having a "cordial conversation" with the shuttle's attendant and didn't issue any tickets or warnings, the AP reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this story, which was reported from New York City.