U.S. safety board will investigate Las Vegas self-driving shuttle crash

Avatar By Aaron Sims | 3 years ago

A driverless shuttle bus went into service in Las Vegas Wednesday and made it through several hours of autonomous driving before getting into a fender-bender with a delivery truck. Federal Transportation Safety Board officials headed to the city Friday to look into the collision and how to prevent future crashes.

Human error—not machine error—was the cause, according to the sponsor companies and Jeff Zurschmeide, a reporter riding the shuttle. They said that the accident occurred when the delivery truck backed into the shuttle while the shuttle was stopped.

City police agreed and issued the truck driver a ticket, according to a city government blog post. The city reported that the shuttle suffered minor damage to its front end and will resume service Thursday.

“The shuttle did what it was supposed to do, in that its sensors registered the truck and the shuttle stopped,” the city said.

However, a human driver might have done a little more, the reporter suggested afterward. Writing on digitaltrends.com, he noted that the shuttle detected the oncoming truck but did not move out of its path or honk its horn.

The shuttle, the Navya Arma, is an electric autonomous vehicle operated by Keolis North America. Las Vegas and the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada are also sponsoring it.

Self-driving cars have been in a number of crashes in the past year, including 12 incidents in California since September 8 involving General Motors’ self-driving unit, Cruise Automation. This week’s crash was the first involving a vehicle operating in public service, however, according to the transportation safety board.

The news came the same week that Waymo announced that it will take customers in Arizona on test rides of its self-driving cars next month in anticipation of launching a ridesharing service consisting exclusively of self-driving cars.