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Las Vegas Robobus Service Rollout Comes to a Quick Stop

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Just Another Instance of a Human Causing a Crash with an Autonomous Vehicle

How many times have you seen this happen? A plan takes shape and proceeds without a hitch. Everything is running smoothly, but you can’t help but wonder when gremlins will jump out and throw left-handed monkey wrenches into the works…Last week’s Robobus service rollout in Las Vegas went a little something like this.

The city of Las Vegas, Nevada rolled out an autonomous (self-driving) bus service with all the usual fanfare and hype. There were even celebs of the motoring world like Danica Patrick and others on hand, clamoring for a seat on the maiden voyage – a driverless, 28-mph run.

Eight-Passenger Electric Robobus

And so, at the appointed hour, the French-made jellybean bus began its slow-speed, three-stop crawl through the heart of the entertainment district.

As the little bus maneuvered, it encountered a large white truck driven, of all things, by a human. The operator apparently didn’t recognize the computer-controlled jellybean bus ahead. Driving in reverse, the semi and the Navya bus inched closer and closer, causing the robobus to stop. Passengers told reporters the tiny bus froze and didn’t move out of the way.

Then, the inevitable happened – crunch. What a way for the AAA-sponsored program to start up. You know it isn’t what they had in mind, and certainly not within the first hour it was on the road. The good news for autonomous tech fans is that the robobus wasn’t actually at fault – it was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The police agreed and cited the truck driver, but if we’re being fair, the bus certainly should’ve been able to honk its horn or maneuver itself out of harm’s way. Who’s to say?

Robobus Crash

“The shuttle did what it was supposed to do, in that it’s (sic) 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.”

Robobus Service Halted by Crash; No Injuries Reported

Fortunately, there were no injuries, according to tweets from AAA. The auto club is providing the three-stop service free-of-charge, and donating $1 to the Las Vegas Victims Fund for every rider.

Photos of the scene showed damage to the left front of the driverless vehicle.  According to Autoblog, they took the bus out of service for the rest of the day, and there was no indication as to when it would return.

Sources: Autoblog, thecarconnection, KSNV, Las Vegas Review-Journal

Categories: Automotive News, Fails & Crashes

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