Cirque du Soleil. Siegfried and Roy. Frank Sinatra. Celine Dion. Britney Spears. And now—finally—joining the ranks of famous attractions on the Las Vegas strip are, yes, driverless shuttle buses.
Alongside the American Automobile Association, and transportation company Keolis, the city of Las Vegas is launching a new, year-long public self-driving pilot program starting Nov. 8.
All-electric, eight-seat Navya ARMA vehicles will pick up passengers along a 0.6 mile, three-stop route up and down the Fremont East Innovation District, a section of downtown Vegas that's been earmarked for the testing and expansion of new technologies.
The pilot service expands on a limited test program that ran back in January, which gave the public free driverless rides along the same route. The program's sponsors are claiming that the new effort will be the largest self-driving pilot to operate in real world traffic conditions, and that it'll be the first instance in which an autonomous vehicle will be "fully integrated" into a city's traffic infrastructure, connecting with signals along its route.
AAA's going to be surveying Las Vegas passengers about their experience on the shuttles to learn more about public sentiment and engagement with autonomous vehicles. Negative perceptions, let's be honest, remain a major obstacle for driverless tech.
The Vegas pilot program could be a valuable test field, but it's not the only one out there. Private companies like Waymo and GM's Cruise are expanding their public-facing testing programs, but shuttle services are also a popular way to bring the tech to more people.