The small self-driving shuttle bus, sponsored by AAA Northern California, Nevada & Utah (AAA), launched the nation's first autonomous shuttle pilot program geared specifically for the public in Las Vegas Wednesday afternoon.
Unfortunately, about two hours into its maiden voyage, the bus sensors registered a possible accident with a truck and did what it was programmed to do to avoid an incident - it stopped.
However, the human-controlled truck did not stop and grazed the front fender of the shuttle bus. In a press release issued by the City of Las Vegas, had the truck been equipped with the same sensor equipment, the accident would have been avoided.
Testing of the shuttle will continue during the 12-month pilot in the downtown Innovation District.
The shuttle, which can carry 12 passengers and uses electric curb sensors instead of brake pedals or a steering wheel, will remain out of service for the rest of the day. It is operated by the transportation company Keolis as part of a 12-month pilot project to identify how passengers feel about self-driving vehicles, and monitor the vehicles interaction in a live traffic environment.
The human driver of the truck was found to be at fault and cited by Metro police. The video below is from AP.
AAA has partnered with the city of Las Vegas, the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) and Keolis North America and expects that 250,000 people will use the shuttle. The shuttle is manufactured by NAVYA, comes equipped with LiDAR technology, GPS, cameras, and seatbelts. Safety features include the ability to automatically and immediately brake in the event of a pedestrian crossing in the path of the vehicle.
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.
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 its favorable climate in which to test new driving technology.
The shuttle can be boarded at any of the autonomous-vehicle shuttle’s three stops located on Fremont Street and Carson Street between Las Vegas Boulevard and 8th Street.