Published: Sat, November 11, 2017
Finance | By Loren Pratt

U.S. self-driving shuttle crashes on first day of test service

U.S. self-driving shuttle crashes on first day of test service

The autonomous vehicle was at a standstill when it was struck by a delivery truck going in reverse.

Federal transportation safety officials headed to Las Vegas on Friday to investigate a collision this week between a self-driving shuttle bus on its first day of service and a truck, which was blamed on human error. Thursday also marked the shuttle's first collision. The shuttle stopped, and the truck kept moving and backed into the front of the vehicle even though the vehicle had actually safely stopped and was waiting for the truck to yield. None of the shuttle passengers were reported to be injured. But, Zurschmeide noted, "we had about 20 feet (between the shuttle bus and traffic behind it). The driver of the truck was cited by Metro".

Police were called to the scene and the truck driver was issued a ticket, Moreno said.

The shuttle was hit by a truck, the City of Las Vegas said in a blog post, after the truck's (human) driver failed to stop in time. "Unfortunately the human element, the driver of the truck, didn't stop". Rather, it was rear-ended by a human-driven truck. "Or at least leaned on the horn and made our presence harder to miss".

The bus was developed by French company Navya and uses Global Positioning System, electronic kerb sensors and other technology to find its way along Vegas streets with a strict 15mph limit. The Navya vehicle, which organisers lightheartedly patched with band-aids, has a human operator on board who can take control of the vehicle, but "it just happened too quickly", he said.

Despite the incident, the self-driving shuttle was back on its route within 24 hours, and supporters of the technology believe that there is still ample evidence to suggest that autonomous vehicles are the future of public transportation.

In addition to studying how the shuttle interacts in a live traffic environment in downtown Las Vegas' busy Innovation District, AAA will survey riders on their experience in order to understand why a large percentage of consumers remain wary of driverless technology, and whether a personal experience changes their perception.

While the Las Vegas pilot has exposed some shortcomings in the technology, autonomous public transportation has been operating successfully in both Switzerland and Singapore for more than a year, and Heathrow Airport in London has used driverless pods since 2011.

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