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Published On: Fri, Nov 17th, 2017

Las Vegas Self-Driving Shuttle Accident Under Investigation

A self-driving shuttle in Las Vegas crashed hours after the service began. The crash involved the self-driving shuttle and a truck, according to Reuters. The crash, deemed a minor accident, made headlines as the first, public autonomous vehicle to be involved in a crash.

The driverless shuttle, offered for free to users in downtown Las Vegas, was designed and operated by French companies. Navya designed the vehicle and Keolis was in charge of the shuttle’s operation. The American Automobile Association sponsored the vehicle.

The shuttle started its year-long pilot project to show the potential that self-driving vehicles have in the transit industry.

photo/ Gerd Altmann via pixabay

Headlines were often misleading, with the shuttle to blame as the reason behind the crash. The semi-truck operator was at fault and hit the shuttle while backing up. The low-speed collision left the plastic panels on the shuttle dented, but no one was injured in the accident. The shuttle did not malfunction or cause the crash.

Initial investigations are not conclusive on whether or not the shuttle could have prevented the collision or done more to avoid the accident.

Federal regulators have been dispatched to the crash site to further determine the cause of the accident. Regulators have been slow to enact new laws for autonomous vehicles, causing industry experts to lobby for regulations to push the industry forward. Industry insiders forecasted self-driving vehicles to be available as soon as 2020.

The shuttle’s minimal damage allowed the vehicle to resume operation later in the day. The city of Las Vegas quickly wrote a post stating, “The shuttle did what it was supposed to do, in that its sensors registered the struck and the shuttle stopped.”

Officials claim they want to understand how autonomous vehicles interact with human-driven vehicles and the environment. Data shows that 94% of accidents are caused by human error. Autonomous vehicles have the potential to end traffic fatalities by 2046, according to safety technicians and regulators.

Initial reports and investigations indicate that the truck driver was at fault for the accident. The police that arrived at the scene issued the truck driver a ticket. The Automobile Association of America has offered to help the safety board investigate the accident. The association is one of the shuttle’s sponsors.

The association claims that they will work with the safety board to share information and safely implement self-driving vehicles for public use. A reporter on the scene of the accident claims that the self-driving shuttle operated appropriately, but suggested that a human may have done more to avoid the accident.

In his report, he claims that there was ample empty space behind the shuttle, which suggests that a human would have put their vehicle in reverse to avoid the accident. He suggests a human would have, at the very least, honked the horn to make their presence known.

Self-driving vehicles have been in a number of crashes in California that involve human errors. GM regulators claim that all of the crashes, 12 in total, were human error. Human drivers are known to behave recklessly around self-driving vehicles, according to GM regulators.

Author: Jacob Maslow

About the Author

- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

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