French Navya has self driving taxis and buses in Vegas and other places

NAVYA unveiled as a World Premiere the first 100% autonomous robot-taxi on the market this Tuesday November 7, 2017 at La Cité du Cinéma (Paris) : AUTONOM CAB, two years after the launch in 2015 of AUTONOM SHUTTLE, the first 100% autonomous shuttle on the market.

On Wednesday, the multinational transportation company Keolis, French manufacturer Navya, and AAA launched the small driverless vehicle in Las Vegas. The electric vehicle had an attendant on board, to keep the peace, and carried eight people in a half-mile loop around the Fremont Street Entertainment District.

Within a few hours, the shuttle encountered a semi-truck backing out of an alleyway and stopped. It couldn’t back up, because there was a vehicle directly behind it. It’s programmed to be extra-conservative, so it just sat there as the truck slowly backed into it. The shuttle could have honked, a Keolis representative said, but didn’t because the truck’s trailer moved in a way that the autonomous system did not anticipate. The so-called “crash” happened in super slow motion, and merely dented the plastic panels on the front of the shuttle.

The Vegas self-driving shuttle will hold up to 12 people, including an attendant from Keolis. The attendant is kind of like an elevator operator – they don’t really need to be there, but they will make people feel more comfortable about using the new tech.

The Navya AUTONOM SHUTTLE guarantees autonomous transport performance as well as a comfortable trip for the first and last mile, thanks to its gentle navigation.

Capable of transporting up to 15 people, AUTONOM SHUTTLE combines a number of advantages. AUTONOM SHUTTLE fleets make it possible for operators to improve productivity on private sites, and ease road congestion in urban centers. Passengers also enjoy a pleasant trip while making the most of their travel time.

Cutting-Edge Technology at the Service of Experience
The AUTONOM SHUTTLE was specifically designed to meet the needs of an autonomous, driverless vehicle while also optimizing navigation and safety features. With neither a steering wheel nor pedals, AUTONOM SHUTTLE uses effective guidance and detection systems that combine various types of advanced technology. Data from Lidar sensors, cameras, GPS RTK, IMU and odometry is merged together and interpreted by deep learning programs. AUTONOM SHUTTLE moves about efficiently and makes proficient decisions. Without any driver.

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1

So it worked for a few hours before it encountered a problem that resulted in a crash.

And it wasn't something weird. It wasn't a giant plastic bag, or people walking across the road with a mirror, or a bison on the road, or anything... you know... unexpected.
No, the problem it couldn't deal with was a truck in reverse. That was the level of "unexpected" that gets the computer stuck.

Needs another couple of years work.

2

Do you know the saying "Don't let waiting to be perfect stop you from being good"?

Self driving cars are already better than the average driver under a wide range of driving conditions. There certainly are circumstances that they cannot yet deal with properly, many of which are much more serious than the almost comical one described in this article. However the criteria for introducing self driving cars should NOT be when they are perfect. It should be the point at which, statistically, the expected number of deaths and injuries a self driving car would be involved in is less than the expected number of deaths and injuries a human driven car would be involved in. I think the self driving car companies have missed the boat on taking control of the public conversation and are letting typical obstructionists get the upper hand. I guess that was to be expected, since they are techies, not people-oriented, but it will be a damn shame if the obstructionists win this battle.

I fully expect self driving cars will be involved in collisions when they are first introduced in large numbers. However, the self driving cars collect so much information about the circumstances that led to a collision that it almost always will be possible to determine what went wrong and what to do to prevent it from happening again (assuming it is an accident that can be avoided -- not all can be). Once the solution is understood and integrated into the driving software, it will promptly be distributed to all of the self driving cars, AND THAT KIND OF ACCIDENT WILL NEVER HAPPEN TO A SELF DRIVING CAR AGAIN. So, once they start to be introduced in large numbers, their driving competence will increase very, very rapidly. I am assuming that the data about accidents will be, by law, shared among all the self driving car manufacturers and relevant government regulators, so that all the self driving cars will improve very, very rapidly.

We must have the guts to let the self driving cars on the road as soon as they demonstrate that they are better than the average driver, which, as I said above, they already are in many circumstances. They will get involved in accidents, as do human drivers. That is why the manufacturers need to be shielded from liability for accidents involving their cars. There probably needs to be legally-mandated no-fault insurance for self driving cars. Then the self driving cars will have the opportunity to improve very rapidly, and the issues of their safety will fade away quite quickly.

There is the need to have some limitations on the use of self driving cars in the initial period. For instance, I believe self driving cars currently are not competent to drive on roads whose normal lane and edge markings, signs, and signals (and probably other critical features) are obscured by snow, dirt from construction, fog, etc. I do not know precisely how to accommodate that during the initial introduction period, and most importantly, how to allow the self driving cars to gain the real world experience in those more challenging environments that will lead to increasing their competence in those environments. I think the manufacturers and regulators ought to be able to work out something reasonable if they are given the ability to focus on that rather than spend their energies fighting the professional obstructionists.

Self driving cars will greatly reduce traffic deaths and injuries. They are almost at the point where they are ready for widespread, though not completely unlimited, use. Once they start to be introduced widely, their driving competence will increase rapidly as the experience from each accident is used to eliminate the flaw that caused the accident from their programming. But we need the courage to allow self driving cars to fail at about the same rate as average human drivers fail so that we can gather the real world experience that will drive that improvement.