Federal regulators are investigating a crash involving a self-driving shuttle and a truck in Las Vegas, reports Reuters.
Although it wasn’t a major crash, the incident made headlines because it occurred just a few hours into the shuttle’s first day of service. And it was the first crash involving an autonomous vehicle operating in public service.
The accident has been blamed on human error, not the autonomous technology. According to multiple sources, including a reporter on the shuttle, the delivery truck backed into the shuttle that had come to a stop. The autonomous vehicle suffered only minor damages, including a crumpled front fender. The incident didn’t stop the shuttle from resuming service the next day.
“The shuttle did what it was supposed to do, in that its sensors registered the truck and the shuttle stopped,” the city of Las Vegas said in a blog post. The shuttle has multiple sponsors other than the city of Las Vegas, including AAA of Southern Nevada, Keolis North America, and the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada.
Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board traveled to Las Vegas on Friday to start investigating the crash. According to NTSB spokesman Christopher O’Neil, the agency wants to study “how self-driving vehicles interact with their environment and the other human-driven vehicles around them.”
Government data says that 94 percent of crashes are caused by human error. With the advent of autonomous cars and new safety tech, regulators have said it’s possible to end traffic fatalities by the year 2046.
Meanwhile, Waymo is gearing up to launch a truly driverless car service on public roads in Arizona. The vehicles will have no driver in the front seat, even as an emergency backup.