AAA Northern California, Nevada & Utah (AAA) is sponsoring the nation's first self-driving shuttle pilot project geared specifically for the public. Over the course of a year, the self-driving shuttle aims to provide a quarter-million residents and visitors of Las Vegas with first-hand experience using autonomous vehicle (AV) technology, exposing most riders to the technology for the first time. This pilot builds on Keolis' limited shuttle launch in downtown Las Vegas in early 2017; the current launch is will be the first self-driving vehicle to be fully integrated with a city's traffic infrastructure. The self-driving shuttle service celebrated its launch day by getting into an accident 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. Testing of the shuttle will continue during the 12-month pilot in the downtown Innovation District.
In addition to studying how the shuttle interacts in a live traffic environment in downtown Las Vegas' busy Innovation District, AAA will survey riders on their experience in order to understand why a large percentage of consumers remain wary of driverless technology, and whether a personal experience changes their perception. AAA partnered with the city of Las Vegas, the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) and Keolis North America (Keolis), which will operate and maintain the NAVYA Arma fully electric shuttle.
Tim Condon, President & CEO of AAA Northern California, Nevada & Utah, said autonomous-vehicle technology is poised to bring unprecedented mobility independence to Americans, in addition to improving traffic safety. "From the horseless carriage to the driverless car, AAA has built its legacy on making travel safer, easier and more enjoyable," said Condon. "AAA believes autonomous technology has the potential to save lives and improve traffic safety. We believe our Las Vegas pilot will allow the public to experience this exciting technology for themselves and allow their voices to be heard as AAA studies how autonomous transportation can be safely deployed for public use."
The shuttle is manufactured by NAVYA, comes equipped with LiDAR technology, GPS, cameras, and will seat eight passengers with seatbelts. Safety features include the ability to automatically and immediately brake in the event of a pedestrian crossing in the path of the vehicle. In addition to surveying the shuttle's riders, AAA will examine how others sharing the streets react to it -- including pedestrians and cyclists. AAA chose Las Vegas for the launch because of the state's progressive regulations on autonomous vehicles, heavy investment in innovation, the high volume of visitors and a sunny, dry climate that's favorable for testing new driving technology.
"Las Vegas is a global leader in innovation and sustainability and we are excited to partner with AAA, Keolis and the RTC to bring the NAVYA autonomous shuttle back to Las Vegas," Mayor Goodman said. "The shuttle will be a great fit in fabulous downtown Las Vegas within our Innovation District, where we are forerunners in testing new technologies."
In addition to the pilot in Las Vegas, AAA also partnered with GoMentum Station in Concord, California, to study vehicles being tested at the nation's largest secure proving grounds for connected and autonomous technology.
How the Self-Driving Shuttle Pilot Program Works
Covering a 0.6-mile loop in the Fremont East "Innovation District" of downtown Las Vegas, the all-electric, self-driving shuttle offers free rides for people to experience autonomous transportation in a real-world environment. The shuttle is the country's first autonomous shuttle to be fully integrated with "smart-city" infrastructure, communicating with traffic signals to improve safety and traffic flow. The shuttle is operated and maintained by Keolis, which also led the efforts to integrate its vehicle into the smart-city infrastructure, in partnership with the city of Las Vegas and NAVYA.
The shuttle can be boarded at any of the autonomous-vehicle shuttle's three stops located on Fremont Street and Carson Street between Las Vegas Boulevard and 8th Street.
For more see Autonomous Vehicles Land, Water, Air 2017-2037
Source: AAA and City of Las Vegas
Top image: AAA