Driverless Shuttles Hit Las Vegas: No Steering Wheels, No Brake Pedals

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Mike Shedlock via,

Electric, driverless shuttles with no steering wheel and no brake pedal are now operating in Las Vegas.


There’s a new thrill on the streets of downtown Las Vegas, where high- and low-rollers alike are climbing aboard what officials call the first driverless electric shuttle operating on a public U.S. street.


The oval-shaped shuttle began running Tuesday as part of a 10-day pilot program, carrying up to 12 passengers for free along a short stretch of the Fremont Street East entertainment district.


The vehicle has a human attendant and computer monitor, but no steering wheel and no brake pedals. Passengers push a button at a marked stop to board it.


The shuttle uses GPS, electronic curb sensors and other technology, and doesn’t require lane lines to make its way.


“The ride was smooth. It’s clean and quiet and seats comfortably,” said Mayor Carolyn Goodman, who was among the first public officials to hop a ride on the vehicle developed by the French company Navya and dubbed Arma.


“I see a huge future for it once they get the technology synchronized,” the mayor said Friday.


The top speed of the shuttle is 25 mph, but it’s running about 15 mph during the trial, Navya spokesman Martin Higgins said.


Higgins called it “100 percent autonomous on a programmed route.”


“If a person or a dog were to run in front of it, it would stop,” he said.


Higgins said it’s the company’s first test of the shuttle on a public street in the U.S. A similar shuttle began testing in December at a simulated city environment at a University of Michigan research center.


The vehicle being used in public was shown earlier at the giant CES gadget show just off the Las Vegas Strip.


Las Vegas city community development chief Jorge Cervantes said plans call for installing transmitters at the Fremont Street intersections to communicate red-light and green-light status to the shuttle.


He said the city hopes to deploy several autonomous shuttle vehicles — by Navya or another company — later this year for a downtown loop with stops at shopping spots, restaurants, performance venues, museums, a hospital and City Hall.


At a cost estimated at $10,000 a month, Cervantes said the vehicle could be cost-efficient compared with a single bus and driver costing perhaps $1 million a year.


The company said it has shuttles in use in France, Australia, Switzerland and other countries that have carried more than 100,000 passengers in more than a year of service.

Don’t Worry Tax Drivers

Don’t worry taxi drivers because some of my readers say …

  1. This will never work
  2. There is no demand
  3. Technology cost will be too high
  4. Insurance cost will be too high
  5. The unions will not allow it
  6. It will not be reliable
  7. Vehicles will be stolen
  8. It cannot handle snow, ice, or any adverse weather.
  9. It cannot handle dogs, kids, or 80-year old men on roller skates who will suddenly veer into traffic causing a clusterfack that will last days.
  10. This is just a test, and testing will never stop.

Real World Analysis

Those in the real world expect millions of long haul truck driving jobs will vanish by 2020-2022 and massive numbers of taxi job losses will happen simultaneously or soon thereafter.

Yes, I bumped up my timeline by two years (from 2022-2024 to 2020-2022) for this sequence of events.

My new timeline is not all tremendously optimistic given the rapid changes we have seen.

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falak pema's picture

And so the 4th revolution of AI begins.

TwelveOhOne's picture

Yep!  I totally recall the Johnny Cab:

Ahh, fuck it I'm no Williambanzai7, how do you insert images anyway?  Here's the link:

Clockwork Orange's picture

What about when Putin hacks it?

Dead dog, and dead hookers all over the sidewalk.

Rich Stoehner's picture

Well people go to vegas to gamble so......

Manthong's picture


So how does the auto-pilot and the servicing technicians deal with two or more flows of  projectile vomit?

Been there.. done that.


..and I just cannot wait to see the auto shuttle sex videos.


..might be a good idea for a cable show... but robotized.

..ithe robot could ask them questions and award a prize for the best..........

use your imagination.


Supafly's picture

Good idea!  Why we identify with the vehicles that transport us really reeks of our plane of consciousness.  Take the fucking bus.  I could buy a Porsche for 100k, or Uber to incall hookers and easily score 3 times the ball draining. 

Stuck on Zero's picture

I'm curious about those driverless vehicles. Do they have a dummy in the front seat like Total Recall? Or maybe a blow-about driver like the autopilot in Airplane?

Slomotrainwreck's picture

I've heard about "Mile high sex" but what is it called when in an autonomous vehicle that has rights?

zippedydoodah's picture

There have been driverless trains for more than a decade. Maybe even longer?

There is no unionized painted dummy at the front ;O)

Ignatius's picture

People can now lose their life savings faster than ever leaping from one sucker's bet to another. 

Ah, the sweet smell of progress.

Innovations like these are coming faster than normal people of normal means can adapt (i.e., make an honest living).

shovelhead's picture

Maybe stock brokers should offer scantily clad waitresses and free drinks to compete with Vegas?

OfAllElaboratePlans's picture
OfAllElaboratePlans (not verified) buzzsaw99 Jan 14, 2017 6:03 PM

Take you straight to FEMA camp

Perimetr's picture

Send one of those damn things to Arizona

and let's see if it stops if John McCain walks in front of it.

heuvosYbacon's picture

“If a person or a dog were to run in front of it, it would stop,” he said.

There's your answer.

Arnold's picture

But not for cats and pigeons.


Oh regional Indian's picture

It stops for "humans" and Dogs, not McStains...

Sudden Debt's picture

Anybody who gets into a cab like that says: Replace my job by a robot because I'm a moron.

And I bet you... there will be plenty or morons lining up to get in.

Today I had a conversation with some people, one a notary, about how their jobs will be replaced in the next 5 years.

They believe all those jobs will be replaced... just not their job. They're different.


Well, people should realize the next:

1. Small companies will go extinct as the bigger companies will have the money to automate on a industrial scale.

2. Even small company owners, and by small I mean <500 people, will be joining the soupkitchens lines.

3. We will enter a communist system that will destroy are liberties and they are to blame.


Robotics will not turn our lives into a disney movie.

The robots will be owned by large powercenters that want to own it all.

Robots will be a drug that will make humanity even more lazy as hell. And in the end, everybody will pay.


general ambivalent's picture

Maybe, but imagine how good the Ghostbusters remake will be with robots!

garypaul's picture

You're getting carried away Sudden Debt. This robot stuff works great in the lab/test zones. Whether it is transplantable on a larger scale is still unknown. The interesting thing is, all my friends who are computer programmers/engineers/scientists are skeptical about this stuff, but all my friends who know nothing about computer science are absolutely wild about the "coming age of robots/AI". Go figure.

P.S. Of course the computer experts that are milking investment money with their start-ups will tell you it's great

ChartreuseDog's picture

I'm an engineer (well, OK, an electrical engineering technical team lead). I've been an electronics and embedded computer engineer for about 4 decades.

This Vegas thing looks real - predefined route, transmitted signals for traffic lights, like light rail without the rails.

Overall, autonomous driving looks like it's almost here, if you like spinning LIDAR transceivers on the top of cars.

Highway driving is much closer to being solved, by the way. It's suburban and urban side streets that are the tough stuff.


garypaul's picture

"Highway driving is much closer to being solved".

That's my whole point. It's not an equation that you "solve". It's a million unexpected things. Last I heard, autonomous cars were indeed already crashing.

Arnold's picture

Your current co ordinates, Please.



Andre's picture

It's another "cashless society" control freak thing. It is the illusion of freedom because it gives us choices, but only the choices it chooses to give.

Over the top comment?

What if you want to go off-roading, or hunting, or camping? What happens if there is an emergency and you HAVE to speed? There's a story of two cars escaping Mt St. Helens - one car did 80, one car did 70. The car doing 70 got crushed.

Safe? We already have cars being hacked. Hack the traffic control net - Die Hard 3.

Technology is OK, I'm alive because of it, but you can have too much of a good thing. Think: Goedel's Incompleteness Theorem.

zippedydoodah's picture

I used  to be a Computer Analyst Programmer. 

In 1981 an ambitious company luanched some software that they very optimistically named "The Last One".

It was so named because programmers would no longer be needed. 

Needless to say, it was irrelevant. In fact I had written a Cobol program to do exactly what they claimed before they even launched it. I think it will be a while before Programmers are obsolete.


Badsamm's picture

Why do we allow this shit?

Glasnost's picture

Because most people enjoy 90% discounts.


Blocking this technology in one's country isn't going to work.  Because people vote with their wallets.  And while millions of jobs might belong to truck-drivers, there's still tens of millions more that aren't immediately affected.  But boy is that 90% discount great to have.  So hell no, we ain't voting against that.  We want our cheaper transport.


Unfortunately a UBI is seeming to become the only 'solution' left.  But if that's ever to be a fundable reality, annual savings realized from automization would need to be taxed, heavily.  Which would also slow down some automization as companies are less immediately incentivized to automize when those gains are taxed.

Lower taxes make sense when the taxes are on something which causes a net increase in jobs.  This kind of automation obviously doesn't do that.

BarkingCat's picture

Fuck most of these truck drivers.

I just drove across the US and these assholes are dangerous as hell. In general they also don't give a shit about anybody's safety.

heuvosYbacon's picture

I mean, right?

Truck drivers kill more children than anhone else. They are a total menance to the ultimate aim of not being run down by heavy machinery.

That is a thing, by the way. It is totally a thing. Deaths from industrial machinery tear at the fabric of modern life. Nobody ever talks about the uncle who was run down in his prime by a shit wagon. There is no glory in such a death.

Drones networks delivering to inner cities will help get the truck driving menance off the roads. Automation should take care of the rest.

navy62802's picture

Let's get some driver-less nukes in there too!

cherry picker's picture

That is why WW111 is going to happen, so we can start over.

turnball the banker's picture
turnball the banker (not verified) Jan 14, 2017 5:48 PM

They do not have any operational in Australia.

restelle's picture

It looks like the vehicle from Total Recall.  I wonder if they'll put a puppet in as a chatty driver?

bobbbny's picture

I agree. Five years to no taxi drivers & no long distance truck drivers.

We are definately heading to money (sorry, currency) for just breathing.

Justin Case's picture

Driverless car bombs coming to city near you.

swizzlefoot's picture

Let's deploy technological forms of transportation when we can't even secure our governments networks/servers. Yeah, makes absolute sense.

hoytmonger's picture

Some people prefer to be slaves to technology.

bloostar's picture

It'll run something down.. mark my wurds..

U4 eee aaa's picture

I can imagine the carnage at 25 mph

CRM114's picture

"Can man live at such speed!?"


(said about the first train in 1825, max speed 25mph)

CRM114's picture

The legal bit interests me.

We know the big corporations can bribe the politicians (e.g. $500,000 for an hour's speech) to get these on the road, but what happens when people start dying?

Who gets sued? For how much? What about cases where a human driver wouldn't have killed anybody?

And what will public acceptance be?

Because I expect the corporations will not use the technology to make anything safer or cheaper,just to buy the CEO another swimming pool he never uses.


..and it won't take long till certain kids will work out how to get one to crash off the side of a bridge - 2,000,000 views on youtube, easy!

rockstone's picture

Those are all good points but fear not....the lawyers will fix everything!

CRM114's picture

Oh, they'll "fix" it alright, same as they always do.

MEFOBILLS's picture

Who gets sued? For how much? What about cases where a human driver wouldn't have killed anybody?


I've been in corporate discussions about this very topic.  At a corporation that makes this technology by the way.  The answer:


Insurance companies and the law will figure it out.  Basically, if somebody gets run over, then the risk does not fall on the technology provider.  Corporate rules can be structured to prevent piercing the corporate veil on this.

Human life does have a price.  Insurance figures out how much it costs to pay off, and then jacks up rates accordingly.

CRM114's picture

Thanks, that's interesting, although I must say that isn't a solution, it's a hope that someone else will come up with one.

But human life depends on whether the accident is caused by a human or not, and the level of intent. It isn't just a case of the price - the law is increasingly locking people up for driving negligence (rightly in my mind) Who gets locked up when the program fails? Or when the program chooses to hit one person and not another in a complex situation?

At the moment, corporate manslaughter laws are woefully inadequate. There's clearly one law for the rich and another for everyone else. Mary Barra would be wearing an orange jumpsuit otherwise.

I am unaware of any automatic machinery which operates in public areas and carries significant risk. Where accidents have happened in the past(e.g.elevators), either the machinery gets changed to remove the risk, or use is discontinued,or the public is separated from the machinery. I don't think any of these are possible for automatic vehicles.


shovelhead's picture

Unattended elevators?

It will never happen. The public wouldn't allow it. Why, the liabilty insurance would be astronomical.

TuPhat's picture

Elevators have no choice of route, only how high or low you want to go.  autos have no comparison.  Disney world  has had many robotic attractions for decades but they are still only entertainment.  keep entertaining yourself Mish.  when I see you on the road I will easily pass you by.