All it took was a little less than two hours before Las Vegas could triumph in its new accomplishment. And, it was not something that Vegas had witnessed before. After all, you don’t see self-driving shuttles crashes every day. The irony of the incident is that it was caused by none but a human.
About the Project
On Wednesday, the much awaited self-driven bus debuted on the public roads of the Innovation District in Las Vegas downtown. A lot of media and celebrities like Penn and Teller and Danica Patrick were present for the much talked-about launch. The media had been hailing it as the first ever self-driving pilot project in America that was aimed at serving as public transport.
However, things didn’t go pretty much as planned, and in less than two hours of the launch, it met with a crash. Through no casualties or injures have been reported, it is indeed a setback for the project since no one looks forward to self-driving shuttles crashes soon after the launch. In fact, the very technology promises to be safeguarding against it.
The Details Revealed as the Self-driving Shuttle Crashes
Jenny Wong, one of the passengers that were on board the shuttle when it crashed, talked to the media. She said, “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.”
“The shuttle didn’t have the ability to move back. The shuttle just stayed still.”
Clarifying Jenny Wong’s statement, Aden Ocampo-Gomez, a Las Vegas Police officer, investigating the scene, explained that the crash was not the fault of the shuttle, but that of a driver of the delivery truck instead. The driver was trying to reverse the truck illegally and as it did so, it scraped the front fender of the shuttle.
According to the statement issued by the city of 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. “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.”
Why It So Happened
The shuttle is oval shaped and is equipped with a computer screen but not steering wheel or brake pedals. It can seat up to eight people and along with an attendant. The shuttle runs on the GPS technology developed by the French manufacturer Navya. It uses electronic kerb sensors, GPS, and advanced technology to navigate itself at a low speed of 15mph.
Now, the reason for such self-driven shuttle crashes is not only its inability to back up, but also the fact that the road has other cars that are driven by humans. This is why even this shuttle became vulnerable to human error of judgement.
The project is a pilot project that is supposed to last for a year. AAA Nothern California, Utah and Nevada are its official sponsors. The aim is to carry 250,000 people in this one year. The target is to reduce the number of deaths claimed by road accidents due to human error.