- A self-driving shuttle bus in Las Vegas got in an accident on its very first day of operation.
- The incident was due to “human error” after a truck failed to stop and backed into the bus.
On Wednesday, to much fanfare, a self-driving electric shuttle bus launched in Las Vegas. It drove up to eight passengers alongside real traffic along a half-mile route, with plans to carry 250,000 riders in a year-long trial.
Within a day, it had gotten into its first accident.
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. The collision took place, local news outlet KSNV News 3 Las Vegas reported, within the very first hour of operation. No-one was hurt.
A spokesperson for the American Automobile Association (AAA) described the cause as “human error.” “Truck making delivery backed into shuttle, which was stopped,” Mike Blasky said on Twitter. “Human error causes most traffic collisions and this was no different. Driver of truck was cited. No one hurt except a bruised bumper!”
While the accident put the shuttle out of action for the rest of the day, it isn’t the end of the trial, which will continue for a full year as planned.
The City of Las Vegas provided more info on the circumstances of the crash:
“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 autonomous shuttle is built by French firm Navya ARMA, while the trial is a partnership between Keolis and the AAA.
It’s an embarrassing incident — but it’s not the shuttle’s fault. Ultimately, it just highlights the kind of human mistakes that self-driving technology hopes to help prevent.