If you’re having a bad day, spare a thought for the autonomous bus that crashed in the first hour of its first day of operation. A self-driving eight-seater electric shuttle, designed to run in a continuous loop in downtown Las Vegas, became the first autonomous service operating in real-time traffic when it hit the road Wednesday. Unfortunately, a collision with a delivery truck brought the momentous occasion to a sudden halt.
“The shuttle just stayed still and we were like ‘oh my gosh, it’s gonna hit us, it’s gonna hit us!’ and then, it hit us!” Jenny Wong, one of the eight people on board, told KSNV.
In the incident, the city claims that the autonomous shuttle “did what it was supposed to do,” and stopped to avoid a collision:
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.
The project is a collaboration between the American Automobile Association, transportation firm Kelois and tech firm Navya. The team aims to get a quarter of a million people to try out the technology for themselves, offering rides for free. The program builds on a previous test launched earlier this year, which saw a 12-passenger shuttle ride along Vegas’ Fremont Street.
The shuttle, which lacks a steering wheel and pedals, made its American debut at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show. Watch the vehicle in action here:
Fortunately, no passengers were hurt in Wednesday’s incident. The truck driver was cited by local police. The city plans to continue the pilot program for the rest of its 12-month duration, but the shuttle was out of service for the rest of the day.