First self-driving bus crashes just after launch

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Las Vegas officials were celebrating the launch of the world’s first driverless shuttle bus, but their elation turned to disappointment when the vehicle crashed into a semi-truck less than two hours later.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the human driver of the other vehicle was at fault, there were no injuries, and the incident caused minor damage.

The new shuttle bus was launched after the U.S. House passed the Self Drive Act in September, which, if passed by the Senate, would exempt car manufacturers from various federal and state regulations, allowing for the eventual deployment of up to 100,000 test vehicles a year.

Under the Act, states would still decide whether to permit self-driving cars on their roads. However, the federal government could permit a car manufacturer to bypass certain federal safety rules, as well as some state regulations.

Sponsored by AAA, the oval-shaped shuttle uses GPS and electric curb sensors instead of brake pedals or a steering wheel and can transport up to 12 passengers at a time. It comes equipped with an attendant and a computer monitor.

This is not the first time self-driving vehicles have been involved in a collision. In March, Uber stopped testing its self-driving vehicles in the United States following an accident in Arizona. An Uber spokesperson later said all tests had been paused for the ride-hailing service in order to complete an investigation.

Google’s self-driving car was found to be at fault when it struck a public bus in California early last year. The company said it would improve software for the vehicles to more accurately differentiate larger vehicles, such as buses. Its self-driving car unit, Waymo, also recently patented a way to make vehicles softer in their efforts to reduce collision-related injuries.

Car manufacturers around the world are still investing in autonomous vehicle efforts. Volvo plans to involve every-day drivers in its “Drive Me” pilot on the streets of London in December; while Intel’s Mobileye is building more than 100 level 4 SAE vehicles, which it will test in the United States, Israel, and Europe starting this year.

General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Audi, Nissan, BMW, and Hyundai are all looking to put driverless vehicles on the roads in the very near future.

In Australia, Transurban is currently conducting a driverless vehicle trial in Melbourne over the course of 18 months.

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