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A Las Vegas-based self-driving shuttle service celebrated its launch day by getting into an accident with a human driver, according to a news report from local Nevada broadcast station KSNV News 3. The shuttle, made by French startup Navya and owned and operated by French private transportation company Keolis, operates on a 0.6-mile loop around downtown Las Vegas offering free rides to residents. 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.
A spokesperson for AAA, which is working with Las Vegas and Keolis to sponsor the program and survey driver attitudes toward autonomous vehicles, confirmed on Twitter that the accident was actually the truck driver's fault. As is the case with a vast majority of accidents involving driverless cars, you can chalk this one up to human error. 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 posted a note on its official Tumblr page further describing the incident:
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.
It's good to know that testing is confirmed to continue. Keolis' service marks the country's first ever driverless public transportation option, and it feels largely indicative of how a majority of Americans will first interact with autonomous cars. While the crash will undoubtedly stoke fear among the more paranoid, artificial intelligence-fearing crowd, the best way to prove the viability of self-driving vehicles is to get more of them on public roads where passengers and drivers alike can experience the technology.
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