Las Vegas Sun

September 21, 2018

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Driverless vehicle programs see 3 accidents in 32,000 trips

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Isaac Brekken for Aptiv

A fleet of vehicles with Aptiv self-driving technology is shown in the Aptiv garage Thursday, Jan. 26, 2018, in Las Vegas.

Despite some high-profile crashes in other cities, there have been only three minor wrecks involving driverless vehicles in Las Vegas in more than 32,000 trips, according to Metro Police and the companies behind two programs.

Two crashes involved self-driving cars on Las Vegas Boulevard operated by the autonomous technology company Aptiv. The other involved a driverless shuttle in downtown Las Vegas.

Nobody was injured in any of the crashes, officials said.

As part of a pilot program, Aptiv and ride-hailing company Lyft have provided more than 5,000 accident-free trips in autonomous cars along the Las Vegas Strip.

The two crashes, one on February and one in March, were not part of the Lyft program and were the fault of the other driver, officials said. Only one occurred while the car was in autonomous mode, with that vehicle being rear-ended, officials said.

The AAA driverless shuttle downtown, meanwhile, has provided more than 27,000 rides since it began operations in November 2017 and has been involved in just one minor crash, officials said.

On Nov. 8, the first day of a yearlong pilot program, a delivery truck backed into the shuttle, police said. None of the eight passengers on the free shuttle was hurt, police said.

Aptiv has a fleet of 52 autonomous BMWs on Las Vegas Valley roads, with 20 involved in the Lyft program, which is expected to increase to 30 by the end the year, officials said. The Aptiv cars on the Lyft network are on the road 20 hours a day, seven days a week.

“This program that’s happening in Vegas with Aptiv is, to my knowledge, the largest commercial self-driving program that’s available to the public,” said Karl Iagnemma, president of Aptiv Automated Mobility. “This isn’t just a major focal point for Aptiv, it’s a major focal point for the entire industry.”

Passengers have rated the driverless rides 4.96 out of 5 stars, taking into account things such as comfort and safety, Iagnemma said.

Factors including the weather and infrastructure make Las Vegas a perfect place to test autonomous cars, Iagnemma said.

“Most important is the relationship that we established at both a city and a state level,” he said. “Las Vegas and Nevada want to bring autonomous vehicles to their streets. They understand the benefits.”

Aptiv and Lyft plan to expand the driverless car program to downtown Las Vegas, with the required technologies in place as early as next month, officials said.