Autonomous Vehicle Didn't Understand Human Error


If you look in your AAA Las Vegas travel guide, you will find multiple shuttle routes leading to many of the city's top attractions, such as the Neon Museum, Stratosphere Tower or Hoover Dam. Now, AAA has partnered with a couple of French companies that manufacture and run public bus systems in the city to launch the first "driverless shuttle" bus. The bright blue, bubble shaped autonomous vehicles can't be missed as the decorative body panels read, "The Future Is Here" and "Hop On with AAA".

Sponsors of the downtown transportation project are providing free rides for residents and tourists to raise money for the Las Vegas Victims Fund that was established after the October 1 mass shooting at the site of a country music festival adjacent to the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.  AAA of Northern California, Nevada & Utah has agreed to donate $1 for each person who tries out the new transportation system. Sponsors say this is the first autonomous vehicle to offer rides to the U.S. public in live traffic, which also makes it the newest tourist attraction in Sin City.

The nimble fifteen-foot shuttle bus was manufactured in France by Navya and designed to carry eight passengers along a designated route. Shuttle operator Keolis commented before its initial run that the driverless bus is programmed to stop on a dime if it detects a person, vehicle or animal in its path. Hours after service began an incident put autonomous braking to the test. A delivery truck stopped in its path and the bus came to a safe stop. Unfortunately, the software was not programmed for the stopped vehicle to suddenly back up.

None of the passengers was injured in the first accident for the self-driving shuttle being used in the pilot project. The driver of the delivery truck was cited by authorities. The city plans to continue with the project once the shuttle is repaired. But, it makes you wonder, "Is artificial intelligence really ready to coexist with human error?"

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