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Published: Mon, November 13, 2017
Tech | By Dwayne Harmon

U.S. self-driving shuttle crashes on first day of test service

U.S. self-driving shuttle crashes on first day of test service

"Unfortunately the delivery truck did not stop and grazed the front fender of the shuttle".

Earlier this year, Navya, an autonomous vehicle company, tested out a free, self-driving bus service in Las Vegas to relative success, but when the service returned yesterday it only lasted about an hour before getting in a traffic accident. No injuries were reported.

In this case, the pod-like Navya SAS shuttle had been behind the truck, which stopped, shifted into reverse and began backing up slowly to turn into the alley. The driver was trying to back his trailer into an alleyway on the left.

Las Vegas police confirmed that the driver of the truck was to blame for the crash and issued him a ticket. The Navya vehicle, which organisers lightheartedly patched with band-aids, has a human operator on board who can take control of the vehicle, but "it just happened too quickly", he said.

The bus anticipated the collision successfully and came to a stop, so no one was hurt and nothing was damaged (other than the bus's bumper).

However, the accident could have potentially be avoided if shuttle would have used its horn to alert the truck driver (as would be expected of a human driver) or simple reverse a few feed (the street was clear behind the vehicle at the time). The Tesla Model S, which was steering itself, slammed into the side of a truck in Florida in 2016, killing the driver. "Had the truck had the same sensing equipment that the shuttle has, the accident would have been avoided". Our mistake is not in slowing down the move to autonomous vehicles but not moving faster!

"We had about 20 feet of empty street behind us (I looked) and most human drivers would have thrown the auto into reverse and used some of that space to get away from the truck", Zurschmeide wrote.

Zurschmeide acknowledged that the truck driver was certainly to blame for the accident, but he also stated that improved safety features on self-driving shuttles could allow the vehicles to react smarter in the future.

The number of such incidents has been on the rise ever since public testing of autonomous vehicle technology has been allowed in certain USA states like California.

The transportation company Keolis is operating the shuttle.

At the unveiling ceremony, officials promoted it as the nation's first self-driving shuttle pilot project geared toward the public.

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