Self-driving shuttle crashes within two hours of launch, here’s why it failed

NASCAR driver Danica Patrick and magic duo Penn and Teller were among the first passengers. The crash happened in front of cameras and celebrities, but there's nothing to be embarrassed about.

Sin City, a city of all the fanciness, now has another thing to look forward too – an autonomous shuttle. However, on the very first day of its launch, the self-driving shuttle met with a rough incident. It had only been a couple of hours after the launch when the shuttle had a minor crash with a truck in front of cameras and celebrities. Post investigation, however, the police confirmed that the ‘robot’ was not at fault. The oval-shaped shuttle that can transport up to 12 people has an attendant and computer monitor, but no steering wheel and no brake pedals. It uses GPS, electronic curb sensors and other technology to make its way. It was developed by the French company Navya and was tested in January in Las Vegas.

NASCAR driver Danica Patrick and magic duo Penn and Teller were among the first passengers. The police confirmed that the truck driver was at fault. Las Vegas police officer Aden Ocampo-Gomez said the semi-truck’s driver was cited for illegal backing. No injuries were reported.

“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, adding, “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.”

At the unveiling ceremony, officials promoted it as the nation’s first self-driving shuttle pilot project geared toward the public. Before it crashed, dozens of people had lined up to get a free trip on a 0.6-mile loop in downtown Las Vegas. City spokesman Jace Radke said the shuttle took two more loops after the crash.

Speaking of self-driving vehicles, first-time users mostly find it difficult to trust artificial intelligence. According to a JD Power study, maximum consumers do not trust the self-driving technology. The JD Power 2017 US Tech Choice Study underlined that people’s distrust in autonomous technology will pose a great challenge for car manufacturers currently working on the self-driving tech. The study was conducted in January-February 2017 and is based on an online survey of more than 8,500 consumers who purchased/leased a new vehicle in the past five years.

Also read: Majority of people do not trust self-driving cars, except millennials: JD Power study

It will take some getting used cars that drive on their own, but auto giants like Tesla, Volkswagen and others major companies like Google are working on developing an impeccable autonomous system that can make even better judgments than a human. India, a country which is getting used to automatic gearboxes only now, would perhaps take longer to get accustomed to self-driving tech as our infrastructure needs a lot more work before we allow cars to have a mind of their own.

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