Conflicting Reports: First Autonomous Self-Driving Stuttle Bus Crashed Or The Truck Driver Did

Launch day in Las Vegas is not going smoothly at all. He said – she said comes to mind. Here’s more…

In what was supposed to be a smooth celebration of a fully autonomous shuttle on it’s eight mile loop in Las Vegas, it appears there has been an accident. It is being reported as a “crash” in the mainstream, due to the shuttle bus, but the spokesman from city government apparently is an official investigator as well because he firmly placed the blame on the truck driver.

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Here’s more from Zero Hedge:

A representative of the Las Vegas city government provided more details about the incident in a tumblr post published by the city:

UPDATE: Minor incident downtown Wednesday afternoon

The autonomous shuttle was testing today when it was grazed by a delivery truck downtown. The shuttle did what it was supposed to do, in that it’s sensors registered the truck and the shuttle stopped to avoid the accident. Unfortunately the delivery truck did not stop and grazed the front fender of the shuttle. Had the truck had the same sensing equipment that the shuttle has the accident would have been avoided. Testing of the shuttle will continue during the 12-month pilot in the downtown Innovation District. The shuttle will remain out of service for the rest of the day. The driver of the truck was cited by Metro.

The shuttle.

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 partnered with the city of Las Vegas, the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) and Keolis North America (Keolis), which will operate and maintain the NAVYA Arma fully electric shuttle.

The shuttle is manufactured by NAVYA, comes equipped with LiDAR technology, GPS, cameras, and will seat 8 passengers with 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 surveying the shuttle’s riders, AAA will examine how others sharing the streets react to it – including pedestrians and cyclists.  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.

As we pointed out yesterday following Waymo’s big driverless-car announcement, driverless cars are regulated by a patchwork of state laws. Arizona, like many states, has no restrictions against operating an autonomous vehicle without a person in the driver’s seat. On the other hand, California, where Waymo is headquartered, requires any self-driving car to have a safety driver sitting in the front.

However, just because companies can legally test these cars, doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve been optimized for safety. In December, Waymo published a report for California’s Department of Motor Vehicles about how frequently its driverless cars “disengaged” because of a system failure or safety risk and forcing a human driver to take over. In the report, Waymo said this happened once every 5,000 miles the cars drove in 2016, compared with once every 1,250 miles in 2015. While that’s certainly an improvement, these types of incidents are hardly rare.