You might remember back in 2017 Las Vegas happily launched an autonomous shuttle that cruises a preset route without a driver controlling the trip. The fun lasted all of a few hours before the autonomous shuttle got into an accident. Since the vehicle was autonomous, the NHTSA got in on the investigation and has released its findings.
The NHTSA found two things contributed greatly to the accident. The first was that the truck involved in the accident didn’t stop where it was supposed to. The other factoid was that the attendant inside the autonomous shuttle didn’t have easy access to the shuttle’s manual controller.
The investigation shows that the truck driver thought the shuttle would stop a reasonable distance from the truck. The shuttle did start slowing nearly 99-feet from the truck. But a stop isn’t programmed until its 9.8-feet from an obstacle. The attendant hit the top button, but the shuttle collided with the truck anyway.
The attendant said that they considered switching to manual mode, but the controller was stored in an enclosed space at the end of the passenger compartment. After the wreck, the company operating the shuttle required the attendant to keep the controller out of the storage space at the start of the trip and accessible all the time reports Engadget.