Self-driving bus crashes hours after its launch in Las Vegas

An autonomous shuttle bus has been involved in a collision in Las Vegas only hours after its launch.

The bus, which is the US’ first self-driving shuttle pilot aimed squarely at the public, was moving slowly when the incident took place. Although none of its eight passengers were injured, the vehicle’s front bumper was damaged in the accident.

The incident follows yesterday’s news that Alphabet-owned Waymo plans to launch a fully autonomous taxi service over the coming months.

Up to 12 passengers can travel in the Las Vegas shuttle at one time and it’s equipped with LIDAR technology that enables it to stop immediately in the event that pedestrian or other road user crosses its path.

Owned and operated by French company Kelios, the shuttle’s 12-month pilot is sponsored by AAA. During this period, residents and visitors can use the autonomous vehicle to travel for free in a short loop of downtown Las Vegas. The AAA will study how the vehicle interacts with live traffic and also survey users on their experiences.

According to reports, the driver of the other vehicle involved – a delivery truck – was to to blame for the crash. The official blog of Las Vegas published a post to confirm that a “Minor incident” had taken place involving the shuttle bus.

It blames human error for the incident, saying: “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.”

Autonomous vehicles, and the risk of accidents they present, are becoming increasingly commonplace. In August, the UK government announced plans to trial a fleet of autonomous lorries on major UK roads. We could also soon see them take to the skies after Uber confirmed that it has teamed up with NASA to make the ambitious plans a reality.

Image credit: City of Las Vegas

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