USA self-driving shuttle crashes on first day of test service

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A driverless shuttle bus was involved in a minor crash with a semi-truck less than two hours after it made its debut on Las Vegas streets Wednesday in front of cameras and celebrities.

Wednesday's fender bender of the Vegas shuttle wasn't the first self-driving auto crash, but it was the first involving one operating in public service, a representative for the National Transportation Safety Board told the news service Reuters.

No injuries were reported and the shuttle is expected to quickly return to service.

In this case, the pod-like Navya SAS shuttle had been behind the truck, which stopped, shifted into reverse and began backing up slowly to turn into the alley. The driver was trying to back his trailer into an alleyway on the left.

Las Vegas police issued the truck driver a ticket, the city government said in a blog post.

The NTSB investigated a May 2016 crash of a Tesla Inc Model S that killed a driver using the vehicle's semi-autonomous "Autopilot" system.

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"Had the truck had the same sensing equipment that the shuttle has, the accident would have been avoided." the statement said.

According to Engadget, the service was set for a year-long trial, but ran into a delivery truck in the first hour when the human driver of the truck backed into the bus' bumper.

Zurschmeide acknowledged that the truck driver was certainly to blame for the accident, but he also stated that improved safety features on self-driving shuttles could allow the vehicles to react smarter in the future. Rather, it was rear-ended by a human-driven truck.

The shuttle is manufactured by Navya and operated by transportation services company Keolis, both based in France, as part of AAA's pilot programme to offer rides to the public in the city, expose riders to autonomous technology and study how the shuttle performs in real-world scenarios. The Navya vehicle, which organisers lightheartedly patched with band-aids, has a human operator on board who can take control of the vehicle, but "it just happened too quickly", he said. The agency has already investigated numerous other crashes involving self-driving cars, all of which were found to be the result of human error in at least some capacity.

"He probably had an expectation that the shuttle would back off and allow him to do his thing", Cummings said.

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