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

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.


MaxDemon Nov 9, 2017 7:56 PM Permalink

A white truck next to white and light colored buildings is very hard for these systems to "see", and this has been known for as long as these systems have existed. And this is not the first time; remember the Tesla that ran full speed into the side of a semi?  Didn't see it, didn't slow down.  The idiot driver, who was watching a movie, died.What bureaucrat allowed this to happen?  Did you sign up to be a guinea pig for their experiment, because you are if you even go near a public road when one of these things drives by.

SweetDoug Nov 9, 2017 7:30 PM Permalink

'''What's bothering me is all the propaganda about Autonomous Vehicles and robotics, such as...______________________________________________________________________________________Self-Driving Car Proliferation is Decades Away - Wall Street…Nov 17, 2016 - America's top federal highway safety regulator says it'll be decades before self-driveing...______________________________________________________________________________________Uh-huh...So who's pissing on my leg telling me it's raining out?This tech is gonna arrive so fast, and spread so quickly it'll take your breath away.Right after they take your job away.But don't worry, maybe you'll get a job over in China before they roboticize, since they're gonna automate rapidly because they can't find enough people to work doing manufacturing jobs.Or enough people to drive trucks...OJOV-V

OCnStiggs Nov 9, 2017 7:17 PM Permalink

The driverless car revolution will end when the parent companies get sued out of existence.Only when the lawyers get paid off, will it have a chance.

EddieLomax Nov 9, 2017 7:11 PM Permalink

I love how they explain it was the trucks fault and if it had the same $5 dollar sensors it would have avoided the accident.I'd point out that if the van had the 100 billion neuron brain with trillions of synapses able to process and react to multiple events they probably would have noticed the truck's real intention and never gotten close to it being an accident.It often takes two to make an accident, pretending that a 2Ghz processor is suddenly achieving AI close to humans is like lipstick on a pig.

2muchtax Nov 9, 2017 7:04 PM Permalink

AI will wreak havoc on the roads and we'll get all the tickets. That's because they will follow the law 100%. Cardboard in the road they'll stop on a dime. Truck backing up to get to a loading dock...crash.Humans have to break the law three or four times a day to get places. It's illegal to drive on shoulder to avoid a box...the AI will stop on a dime. Truck backing up on the road...a human knows what to do, the AI can't reason. Can't wait til one of these AIs meets 12" of snow...and it will always be our fault. The AI will have a record of everything, including videos. When they're going 70 and stop because a peice of cardboard is in the's your fault.

ElTerco Nov 9, 2017 6:36 PM Permalink

I'm shocked! Shocked, I tell you!

The chances that it was the professional delivery driver's fault are slim to none. The self-driving car behaved in a way that a human shuttle driver would not have, probably being the main reason why there was an accident.

It is well documented that self-driving cars have huge problems identifying/reacting to cross traffic, which is no doubt why this accident occurred.

crazybob369 Nov 9, 2017 6:04 PM Permalink

In a perfect world, with perfect roads, perfect weather, no hacking possibilities, power outages, etc.,  I would take a completely automated transportation system (including self driving vehicles), over human operated systems. Unfortunately, we don't live in that world, and probably never will. In the meantime I'll keep driving my own car, thank you.

dchang0 Nov 9, 2017 5:32 PM Permalink

Like I'd ever take the company's word for it. That press release is worded just a little too perfectly.I'd only believe their claims after seeing the raw, unedited footage from at least one of the self-driving bus' forward-facing cameras.

konadog Nov 9, 2017 5:31 PM Permalink

Start your stopwatch folks. The Operation Mockingbird media will start pushing the idea that the AI crapware works great but the problem is human drivers. Just take cars away from humans and everything will be awesome [for the globalist elite pedophile scumbags pushing this agenda that is].

any_mouse Nov 9, 2017 5:22 PM Permalink

They were lucky the shuttle was not rear ended when it stopped.

Want to bet that on the back of the AI shuttle it alerts people to stay back 200ft or some distance.

Collision avoidance is more than just panic braking. Panic braking may be an adverse reaction.

I am hoping that a new generation of hot rodding hackers is born. Cracking the code to get better performance. Contests for AVs like Solo Autocross, with self moving cones that reconfigure constantly. Multiple targets such as a pregnant mother pushing a baby carriage, a lawyer with a briefcase, a woman with a pussy hat, and so on. Which has the lowest survival priority? AVs may lead to a some fun times.

Push the AVs on a closed course until they fail. Then do it again and again. After a period of evolution and learning they will be better machines, but still machines.

empire explosives Nov 9, 2017 5:09 PM Permalink

AAA is no longer a legitimate company.  All they want to sell is overpriced insurance which they refuse to pay off on.  Their batteries are complete junk and thier car repair  shops are all rip offs.

BSHJ Nov 9, 2017 5:00 PM Permalink

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

TacticalTrading Nov 9, 2017 4:47 PM Permalink

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.   

RedDwarf Nov 9, 2017 4:41 PM Permalink

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 RedDwarf Nov 9, 2017 4:57 PM Permalink

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.

In reply to by RedDwarf

Moribundus Nov 9, 2017 4:41 PM Permalink

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 offwith 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.  

effendi Slammofandango Nov 9, 2017 5:49 PM Permalink

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.

In reply to by Slammofandango

Sudden Debt Nov 9, 2017 5:16 PM Permalink

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...

Endgame Napoleon z530 Nov 9, 2017 5:25 PM Permalink

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.

In reply to by z530

King of Ruperts Land Nov 9, 2017 4:36 PM Permalink

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 King of Ruperts Land Nov 9, 2017 5:39 PM Permalink

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.

In reply to by King of Ruperts Land