Self-driving bus hit by reversing lorry

15 November 2017

It was at the start of 2017 that the technology was first tested | Credit: NAVYA

An autonomous shuttle bus was recently hit at a low speed by a reversing lorry, on its first day of service in Las Vegas. The authorities blame human error.

The self-driving vehicle was on its debut run, in the Innovation District of Las Vegas, and was carrying several passengers at the time. Fortunately no one was injured by the collision.

Authorities state that the accident was due to human error, namely the lorry driver’s, who received a ticket for the driving offence of ‘illegal backing’ (reversing in an inappropriate place and manner).

Before the crash occurred, many people had queued to enjoy a free trip on a 0.6-mile loop around Fremont East, Las Vegas. City spokesman Jace Radke said the shuttle took two more loops after the crash.

According to a passenger on the bus at the time, Jenny Wong, “The shuttle just stayed still. And we were like, it’s going to hit us, it’s going to hit us. And then it hit us.

Credit: NAVYA

“The shuttle didn’t have the ability to move back. The shuttle just stayed still.”

The shuttle has no steering wheel or brake pedals, and among other technology, it uses GPS and electronic kerb sensors to navigate at no more than 15mph. According to Las Vegas police officer Aden Ocampo-Gomez, if the lorry had similar equipment, the collision would not have occurred. To quote a spokesperson for Las Vegas:

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

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