Las Vegas launched a self-driving shuttle, and it crashed an hour later

If driverless vehicles are gonna take over the world, it should feel about as natural as taking an elevator, and, say, less risky than playing a slot machine. 

And yet. On the first day of Las Vegas celebrating the historic launch of its new self-driving shuttle bus pilot program, said shuttle bus promptly collided with a semi truck. No word on what the over/under was for how long it might take for an incident, but we’re guessing that, uh, this was the “under” bet. 

The Navya Arma shuttle that was running in Vegas is equipped with specialized LiDAR sensors to map out the road around it, cameras to pick up obstacles in its path, and GPS so its operators can track it in real time, but none of those systems can control other drivers on the road. Las Vegas and its partners AAA and Keolis were reminded of that shortly after the shuttle took its first trip down its 0.6-mile, three stop loop up and down the strip.   

The crash happened within the shuttle’s first hour of operation, according a report from local Las Vegas NBC affiliate KSNV. A AAA rep responded to one of KSNV’s reporters directly on Twitter to clarify that the bus didn’t cause the collision.

Another AAA rep confirmed to Mashable that the shuttle wasn’t damaged either, calling the accident a minor fender bender and emphasizing that the system responded exactly how it should have to prevent the incident. The shuttle drove itself around the block after the collision, but its operators took it out of service afterward.

The AAA rep told us the organization and its partner Keolis are “debriefing” after the incident and running all necessary safety checks before putting the shuttle back on the road. They called the incident a “perfect case study” for the program, and a “a live example of the type of error that can be prevented by autonomous technology.”

Self-driving car crashes aren’t exactly rare, but they’re often highly publicized early on in the testing process, especially in such a high-profile project like the Las Vegas program. The shuttle will soon return to the city’s streets, where it’ll be exposed to the (apparently high-stakes) traffic environment once again. 

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Tags: artificial-intelligence autonomous-vehicles las-vegas navya self-driving shuttle tech transportation

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