A Human Driver Caused a Collision During a Self-Driving Shuttle's Debut

Friday, 10 Nov, 2017

And so it was for a brand new driverless shuttle bus, that crashed on its very first day in operation in Las Vegas.

A driverless shuttle bus had an inauspicious start when it went in to service in Las Vegas yesterday and promptly was involved in a collision with another vehicle, the BBC reports. The shuttle underwent testing in the city earlier this year.

File photo: The "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign.

City officials said a delivery truck backed into the van while both were on a downtown street, causing minor damage to the driverless shuttle. "Had the truck had the same sensing equipment that the shuttle had, the accident would have been avoided". While this driver was cited for illegal backing, he or she may not have known the vehicle behind the truck was autonomous - and, in turn, may have expected the shuttle to react to the truck's movements.

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City spokesman Jace Radke said: "The shuttle did its job in that the sensors hit on the truck, knew the truck was coming and stopped as it was supposed to do".

The Navya bus runs on electric motors and can carry up to 15 passengers, but the smaller Las Vegas model has eight seats fitted with seatbelts and follows a route downtown, away from the strip.

As part of the program, rides on the shuttle are completely free of charge and the goal is to get at least 750,000 people to try it out. Safety features include the ability to automatically and immediately brake in the event of a pedestrian crossing in the path of the vehicle. AAA chose Las Vegas for the launch because of the state's progressive regulations on autonomous vehicles, heavy investment in innovation, the high volume of visitors and a sunny, dry climate that's favorable for testing new driving technology. Back in September, Navya and transport company Keolis tested a self-driving bus in east London.