Las Vegas' New Self-Driving Shuttle Involved In Accident On Its First Day

Tyler Durden's picture

That didn’t take long.

Two days after Alphabet’s Waymo subsidiary announced that it would begin testing a fully autonomous taxi service on the streets of suburban Phoenix, Ariz. - provoking warnings from safety groups who claim Waymo’s own data show its cars are not yet prepared to safely operate on public roads - another self-driving shuttle service being tested in Las Vegas, Nevada created a local controversy when one of its shuttles collided with a human driver. And what's more, the accident occurred on the project's first day in operation.

As the Verge notes, within an hour of starting its new expanded operation today, following a two-week pilot test back in January, the shuttle hit the front end of a large delivery truck as the human driver pulled out into the street from a loading bay. Luckily, all eight people aboard the shuttle were wearing their seatbelts.

However, a spokesperson for AAA, which is working with the city of Las Vegas and Keolis - the private French transportation company that’s been responsible for testing the driverless cars - to sponsor the program and survey driver attitudes toward autonomous vehicles, confirmed that the accident was actually the truck driver’s fault. The shuttles operate in a 0.6 mile loop around Las Vegas offering free rides.

Luckily, only the front bumper of the shuttle was damaged, and none of the eight passengers or the truck driver were injured.

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.


AAA, in partnership with Keolis, just brought the future of transportation to America, and now the century-old auto club wants to hear from you.


AAA Northern California, Nevada & Utah (AAA) is sponsoring the nation’s first self-driving shuttle pilot project geared specifically for the public. Over the course of a year, the self-driving shuttle aims at providing a quarter-million residents and visitors of Las Vegas with first-hand experience using autonomous vehicle (AV) technology, exposing most riders to the technology for the first time. This pilot builds on Keolis’ limited shuttle launch in downtown Las Vegas in early 2017; today’s launch will be the first self-driving vehicle to be fully integrated with a city’s traffic infrastructure.


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.


How the Self-Driving Shuttle Pilot Program Works


Covering a 0.6-mile loop in the Fremont East “Innovation District” of downtown Las Vegas, the all-electric, self-driving shuttle offers free rides for people to experience autonomous transportation in a real-world environment. The shuttle is the country’s first autonomous shuttle to be fully integrated with “smart-city” infrastructure, communicating with traffic signals to improve safety and traffic flow. The shuttle is operated and maintained by Keolis, which also led the efforts to integrate its vehicle into the smart-city infrastructure, in partnership with the city of Las Vegas and NAVYA.


The shuttle can be boarded at any of the autonomous-vehicle shuttle’s three stops located on Fremont Street and Carson Street between Las Vegas Boulevard and 8th Street.

* * *

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.

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moonmac's picture

We'll all be riding in driverless cars when Elon retires on Mars after he builds tunnels that carry 900 mph train bars.

Eyes Opened's picture

"We'll all be riding in driverless cars when** Elton** retires on Mars after he builds tunnels that carry 900 mph train bars."



Sounds more likely too....

ipso_facto's picture

'Had the truck had the same sensing equipment that the shuttle has the accident would have been avoided.'

Won't that be comforting carved on the first victim's tombstone?

Curiously_Crazy's picture

'Had the truck had the same sensing equipment that the shuttle has the accident would have been avoided.'

It's statements like the above that concern me.

As these types of accidents along with more serious ones continue to happen, the fuckers will double down and try to force everyone to have some damn auto drive shit. All in the name of protecting the citizens of course.

Deres's picture

The issue is that big vehicle human drivers considers that they have priority on small ones ... And small vehicle drivers agrees that because they do not want to die. As this "special" code was not taugh to automatci vehicle, big vehicles drive teach tehm live to respect their authority.

Greenspazm's picture

Where's Mitch Shaggalott?...Calling Mitch Shaggalott...

Rex Andrus's picture

Self driving cars are an accident staging legal firm's wet dream. Soon there will be more fraud in car insurance than medicare and IRS combined. Why drive for Uber when you can get hit by one of these toys? Payola! Better make them heavier so they survive the many accidents. Claims for the dead cost less. This is why cops are trained to kill everybody they shoot at. Killing everybody who questions their lack of knowledge of the law is another obviously flawed policy.

LA_Goldbug's picture

Come on, it is just a Child right now.

VWAndy's picture

 Call me when its old enough to be held liable.

Endgame Napoleon's picture

Some programmers say robots will always have the mind of a 2 year old. When I heard the driverless cars were on the road, I thought the optimistic, futuristic programmers were right. Looks like Murphy of Murphy’s Law is right again.

VWAndy's picture

 Watch how this plays out as for the liability aspects. Notice the blame was placed on the human on the spot. Id like to hear the humans side. One thing the human mind does thats really cool is it fills in the visual blanks rather well. Like knowing the other driver might not be able to see you. We dont understand how it really works but it does. Im pretty sure they cannot program a thing into a computer thats not understood.

Endgame Napoleon's picture

I don’t know. These programmers are the smartest people in this era. In one of the accidents in a self-driving car, the robot car could not distinguish a white-on-white visual. It could not “see” the white truck against a white, atmospheric background. When I heard that, I immediately thought about how hard it is to convincingly paint a white object against a white background. I think that, as subtle as that issue is, the programmers fixed it. They will probably figure it out. The economists need to catch up with the programmers, designing theories that fit this time and what automation means for the economy.

VWAndy's picture

 I know a few programmers. Run that line by somebody else. I aint buying. Only a handfull of good programers can drive right. For some reason they hit alot of curbs. I knew one that hit the same curb 3 times hard enough to need a tow. Just sayin it would be best practice to have people that are good drivers doing the progarmin. Catch 22.

ElTerco's picture

Listen, I programmed systems much more complex than these for a living, and let me tell you that no amount of programming is going to fix the fundamental problem -- automatons understand mathematical models, and not the real world at large.

Nobodys Home's picture

Smart move for a truck driver.
He just might have helped keep his job a little longer.
An accident here, an accident there and full faith and trust in these autonomous vehicles is somewhat reduced.
I'm not climbing into one of these death traps for a long time, if ever!

Eyes Opened's picture

And they want autonomous FLYING drones delivering shit overhead ???

I prefer to trust & stick with the Mk1 eyeball thanks very much...

Nobodys Home's picture

Your frikken drone just dropped a case of canned bacon on my head! I'm suing!

CRM114's picture

Drop said bacon on a muzzie's head and suddenly it's a hate crime ;)

King of Ruperts Land's picture

That robot did a bone head move than no human driver would do. You don't stop in front of a truck that is in the process of pulling out.

Bad Robot!

I bet it gets in an accident every other day that was "clearly not its fault".

People are going to die and the robot will claim a technicality when it was obviously insanely bad driving.

effendi's picture

The wetback driving the truck is legally required to give way to the van in the lane he wants to pull into. The driverless van braked in time to avoid a collision and then the wetback was still so spaced out or whatever and drove into the van. Same collision happens thousands of times a day with human idiots who pull out  into traffic without looking. Had anybody been injured then the truck company would have to pay out big bucks as all  the sensors and the cameras on board the van would quickly show liability. Having had a stupid truck once reverse back onto my car years ago (and then drive away leaving me with the repair bill) I'm happy to see the truck driver getting nailed and will be even happier when all the retarded arrogant truck drivers who intimidate other drivers lose their jobs to robot drivers whose driving skills improve at Moores Law rates.

rlouis's picture

It's too early for Friday Humor! LOL! 

any_mouse's picture

"sunny, dry climate", because normal US weather everywhere else is less than ideal for the sensors.

CRM114's picture

We won't be getting any of that autonomous rubbish up here in rural Canada, 'specially not in winter. Nor them 'lectric cars, neither!

z530's picture

Good thing Congress relaxed the rules on the regulations around the safety of autonomous vehicles.

Endgame Napoleon's picture

The Swampians must be investing their family fortunes in this tech to make bank. In that case, what can we say, as with the unfair $6,269 child tax credits and other cake thrown to the serfs with kids, which is often spent indulging boyfriends on the beach. It is all for their babies. If you speak out against it, you are against a good future for babies. Working families investing in the future for their babies.

Sudden Debt's picture

the only way to make it work is to make sure there's no humans and other cars on the roads...

maybe... making cars so expensive through taxes... or getting red of the humans can make it work...

CRM114's picture

Skynet follows...stay tuned!

Slammofandango's picture

Newsflash : Sometimes delivery drivers in big trucks are dicks and pull out into traffic even though they don't have the right of with it.

CRM114's picture

They have 40 tons of 'right to'. 

Slammofandango's picture

Newsflash : Sometimes delivery drivers in big trucks are dicks and pull out into traffic even though they don't have the right of with it.

effendi's picture

The way to deal with it is for the cameras on the driverless cars to send any footage of near misses to the police who can issue a ticket for careless driving. The more driverless cars there are the more chance idiot drivers will be caught. Enough tickets and either the driver will lose his licence and/or his employer will fire him for all the thousands of dollars in fines. Then we human drivers who are responsible drivers will have  safer roads to drive on. I'd rather share the road with a driverless truck (preferably one with level 5 and not level 4 technology) than with some arrogant dick with substance abuse issues.

Moribundus's picture

This will be another step out of Elon Musk when he said that in 20 years no cars with steering wheel. Basic thing is that those cars should comunicate with each other some way. I drive Volvo truck with this kind of "safety" technology. Result isvit is useless so I do not use cruise control anymore. It is catching vehicles in next lanes in curves, it is catching vehicles on exit ramp. Cameras for lane control goes off

with lights against it from other vehicles, from street lamps, from road glared by rain etc. But is not catching stopped vehicles. In real traffic in metro areas this vehicle will not move at all. 


RedDwarf's picture

So here we see where the AI is still too weak.  It's not enough to just 'stop'.  That is a static response.  It needed to back the hell up.  Their claim that had both been sensor based AI vehicles is a cop-out.  That's never going to be the case.

any_mouse's picture

A human might have detected the subtle weight shift as the driver got into the truck and slammed the door shut. Then the exhaust puff as the engine started. Then the slight lurch as the truck was put into gear. Then the wheels shifting as the steering wheel turns. All before the truck actually moved out of the space.

Myself, I avoid driving in a lane next to parked vehicles.

RedDwarf's picture

Very good point.  A proficient AI will avoid an accident in the moment.  A good driver reduces the odds of there being an accident to even avoid in the first place.

Pollygotacracker's picture

Driverless is a scam. It will NOT work. Ever drive a big vehicle? There are literally hundreds of variables. This technology is years away, probably not in my lifetime.

TacticalTrading's picture

Simple solution: Driverless cars should not be allowed to go over 25 mph. That should be slow enough but if not, they will be slowed to 20 mph. 

When it comes to safety, I see this as the Govt. ultimate solution. Some systems will be capable of higher speads, but they all will be limited by the weakest link.




lasvegaspersona's picture

Its Vegas baby...even the onboard computer was high!

Cheapsob's picture

How long before the EX taxi drivers start throwing nails in front of it?

effendi's picture

To be filmed in hi resolution by a battery of cameras? How long before the same ex taxi driver is arested and gets to meet bubba in lockup?

BSHJ's picture

Now cities will require higher taxes to pay for new 'drverless' lanes and of course, high fines for intruding on 'their' special spaces

Hongcha's picture

Johnny Cab sucks.  Nice try, technocrats.

silverserfer's picture

Id rather get into  a  cab driven by an elderly chinese woman.