Public self-driving vehicle tests are becoming more and more commonplace, and the latest to launch in the US just hit the roads in Las Vegas. French driverless electric vehicle manufacture Navya just announced that its autonomous electric shuttle is now taking passengers through Las Vegas’ Fremont East entertainment district from today through January 20th. Navya and the city of Las Vegas say this is the first autonomous electric shuttle to hit a US street, though Uber is already providing public transportation with autonomous cars in Pittsburgh.
The pilot got off the ground thanks to a partnership between Navya, which built the autonomous Arma shuttle, and Keolis, a self-described “global leader in operating public transportation systems” — along with the city of Las Vegas’ cooperation, of course. According to the Las Vegas Sun, each vehicle can hold up to a dozen passengers, will take riders for free and will operate at a max speed of 12MPH, even though they’re certified safe up to 27MPH.
While the shuttles will only be on the road for a short time in this pilot, Jorge Cervantes, Las Vegas executive director of community development, told the Sun he expects they’ll be launching fully in late summer or early fall. Whether they’ll operate on the same route they are during the pilot or in an expanded area doesn’t appear to have been decided yet.
This pilot is starting up at a time when Las Vegas is trying to brand itself as an innovation center. Nearly a year ago, the city launched an “innovation district” that was aimed specifically at bringing futuristic technology to the city. As one of the biggest and most crowded tourist destinations in the US, it certainly could use help making it easier for people to get around town.