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Keolis / Navya

Self-driving Las Vegas bus involved in crash on its first day

Autonomous shuttle bus was hit at low speed by a reversing semi truck

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A self-driving bus transporting passengers around downtown Las Vegas was involved in a collision with a truck on its first day of duty.

Built by French company Navya, the bus was carrying eight passengers when it collided with a truck - but city authorities have said the human driver of the truck was at fault. The police issued him with a ticket for causing the crash.

No one was hurt onboard the autonomous bus, which is said to have suffered only minor damage and will be back on the road before the end of the week. The autonomous shuttle bus service is the first of its kind to operate in the US.

Navya says the bus, which carries a qualified safety driver who can take control in the event of an emergency, is designed to carry up to 15 people and travel at 45km/h (28mph). However, for use on the Las Vegas route, the bus usually drives itself at around 25km/h and carries no more than eight people at a time, all of whom must wear a seatbelt.

The electric bus operates on a 0.6 mile loop in downtown Las Vegas and is free for residents to use. Navya previously ran a two-week trial with the bus back in January, before starting a permanent service on November 8. The collision with the truck occurred just an hour after that service began.

The accident occurred when a semi truck backed into a side road ahead of the bus. Seeing the truck blocking its path ahead, the bus stopped just as it is programmed to do. But the truck continued to reverse, striking the front of the bus at low speed before finally coming to a halt. The bus is able to back up to avoid oncoming vehicles, but did not do so in this scenario, according to a spokesperson for the shuttle service, who spoke to local news station KSNV News 3 Las Vegas.

Earlier the same day, Google sibling Waymo announced it had begun operating its driverless cars on the streets of Phoenix, Arizona with no human behind the wheel. The company, owned by Alphabet, will soon be using the vehicles to offer an on-demand, ride-hailing service - think Uber but without the human driver.

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