Driverless shuttle bringing a glimpse of the future to downtown Las Vegas

Visitors to downtown Las Vegas can take a gamble on the future.

A driverless electric shuttle will hit the streets on Wednesday, capable of “talking” to traffic signals, sharing the road with other vehicles and stopping for pedestrians.

Free rides will be offered aboard the egg-shaped shuttle over the next year, carrying up to 11 passengers along a half-mile loop in the Fremont East neighborhood that was designated last year as part of the city’s “innovation district.”

Magicians Penn and Teller, along with professional race car driver Danica Patrick, are scheduled to appear during a launch event set for 10 a.m. Wednesday in front of the shuttle’s primary stop at Downtown Container Park.

“People look at automobiles as a symbol of freedom and advantage, but it’s amazing to see how much mobility is changing,” said John Moreno, public affairs manager for AAA Nevada.

“We know the general public is skeptical of new technology,” Moreno said. “But hopefully this will build some excitement for what the future of transportation could look like.”

The autonomous shuttle by French company Navya underwent a 10-day test in January, when traffic lanes were blocked along a designated route. This time, the same model shuttle will mingle with other vehicles — a significant move forward in showcasing autonomous technology to the general public.

There are no steering wheels or brake pedals onboard. Instead, the self-driving shuttle will be guided by front and rear cameras, light-detecting sensors, GPS and other technology.

Las Vegas city officials installed wireless sensors that will allow traffic signals to communicate with the shuttle as it travels along varying routes within an area bound by Las Vegas Boulevard and Fremont, Carson and Eighth streets.

The top speed of the shuttle is 25 mph, but it’s expected to scoot through downtown at roughly 10 to 15 mph during the yearlong experiment. A human attendant will be onboard to oversee operations.

Passengers will be asked to rate the ride on a scale of 1 to 5 stars, along with their feelings about autonomous technology. The information will be shared with automakers and government agencies to gauge interest and concerns about driverless vehicles.

“Over the next year, this public-private partnership will help us better understand the customer experience, provide data to further develop intelligent infrastructure, and identify the opportunities and challenges for creating safe and efficient advanced mobility options,” said Tina Quigley, general manager of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada.

AAA officials have set an ambitious goal of 250,000 riders over the next year under a partnership with the city of Las Vegas, the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada and Keolis Transportation.

The agency declined to say how much it’s spending on the yearlong experiment. However, the Auto Club pledged to donate $1 for every passenger who boards the shuttle, with a minimum donation of $100,000 to the Las Vegas Victim’s Fund to assist those affected by the mass shooting on Oct. 1.

“This is the next stage to see if autonomous vehicles have any conflicts with real-time traffic, which will help us determine if this technology can be rolled out on a longer term,” said Jorge Cervantes, chief operations and development officer for the city of Las Vegas.

More than 37,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes nationwide last year — 90 percent of which were caused by human error, AAA officials said, citing federal statistics. Supporters said that autonomous technology could help reduce the number of deaths and injuries coming from car crashes.

As a result, transit planners are taking a closer look at moving away from concrete and pavement for roads, and moving toward the installation of sensors that would allow autonomous vehicles to safely navigate traffic.

“We want to be able to blend these types of vehicles into the overall transit grid,” said Francis Julien, general manager of Keolis Transportation, which operates some of the RTC’s buses.

“Maybe it could be used to go into neighborhoods to pick up passengers, then connect to a main bus or train line,” Julien said. “The possibilities are really endless.”

Contact Art Marroquin at amarroquin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0336. Find @AMarroquin_LV on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Local
Underground home was built as Cold War-era hideaway
The underground house at 3970 Spencer Street is one of the valley’s most unusual homes built 26 feet underground in 1978 by Girard “Jerry” B. Henderson, who, planned to survive the end of the world there.
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours takes you where the locals go
Donald Contursi talks about Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, which offers walking tours of restaurants on and off Las Vegas Boulevard with food samples and tidbits of history about the places they visit.
Bump stock manufacturers under fire
The Justice Department said last month that it had started the process to amend federal firearms regulations to clarify that federal law defines bump stocks as machine guns.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Longtime Las Vegas attorney John Momot dies at age 74
Criminal defense attorney John Momot, who represented mob figures and even played himself in the movie “Casino,” has died.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
5 things connecting Las Vegas and Marilyn Monroe
1. Marilyn Monroe, known then as Norma Jeane, obtained her first divorce in Las Vegas at the age of 20 on September 13, 1946. 2. According to some biographers, Monroe lived at 604 S. 3rd Street for four months during the summer of 1946. The house has since been torn down and is now the site of a parking lot. 3. In 1954, Monroe almost married Joe DiMaggio in Las Vegas but the wedding was called off last minute. The wedding was to be held at the Hotel El Rancho Vegas which was located on the southwest corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. 4. Las Vegas has at least one road dedicated to the star. Marilyn Monroe Avenue is located in east Las Vegas and intersects with Betty Davis Street and Cary Grant Court. 5. There are currently more than 20 Marilyn Monroe impersonators for hire in the Las Vegas Valley.
Sir Richard Branson announces purchase of Hard Rock Hotel
Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, has acquired the Hard Rock Hotel with partners and plans to turn it into a Virgin-branded property by the end of 2019.
3 Centennial High School students killed in Calif. crash (Full)
Three Centennial High School students were killed Thursday morning in Southern California when their vehicle was struck by a suspected drunken driver while they were enjoying their spring break, according to a family member of one of the victims.
Retail Restroom Sexual Assault Suspect
Las Vegas police are asking for help finding a man they said groped a woman in a south Las Vegas Valley restroom. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Calvary Christian Learning Academy, “There was no fair warning.”
Samantha O’Brien, whose three-year-old daughter attended the Calvary Christian Learning Academy daycare, found out Monday night when her daughter’s teacher called about the school closing.
Mojave Max at Springs Preserve
File footage of Mojave Max at Springs Preserve. (Springs Preserve)
Companies bet their futures on cryptocurrency
Two Las Vegas entrepreneurs talk about finding their niche in blockchain enabled technologies and digital currency.
Solar panels reduce energy bill for CCSD
Wilbur and Theresa Faiss Middle School is one of 42 CCSD schools with solar panel installations, saving approximately $514,000 per year in energy costs.
Red carpet at MGM for Dan Reynolds Believer screening
Kats on the red carpet for the VIP screening of "Believer," the documentary by Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds about how the Mormon Church treats its LGBTQ members.
Driver dies in single-vehicle crash
One person is dead after an early Wednesday morning crash in the northwest valley. The single-vehicle crash was called in about 1:35 a.m. on Jones Boulevard just north of Deer Springs Way, according to Metropolitan Police Department Sgt. Robert Stauffer. The driver, who was the only person inside the vehicle, died at the scene.
Uber Health to Improve Patient Ride-Hailing Services
Uber Health to Improve Patient Ride-Hailing Services On Thursday, Uber launched its Uber Health platform for healthcare providers. Medical facilities, rehab centers, clinics and hospitals can book rides for patients from a centralized dashboard – no app required. According to Techcrunch, Uber Health general manager Chris Weber noted some 3.6 million Americans miss appointments due to lack access to reliable transportation. Uber’s endeavors into health care trace back to 2014, when Uber first offered on-demand flu shots in large markets across the U.S. Since then there have been similar efforts throughout the world, from diabetes and thyroid testing in India, to subsidized rides for breast cancer screening in the U.S., to many more. Last summer, over 100 healthcare organizations joined the platform during a private beta. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Events
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like