Truck Dings Self-Driving Shuttle on First Day of Service

Murphy’s Law is laughing its ass off right about now.

On its first official day of service downtown, an autonomous shuttle had a close encounter with a delivery truck and the incident went viral.

Driverless shuttle accident

“Look, Ma, it’s a P.R. nightmare.”

Within an hour of a news conference about the shuttle going into service in a 0.6-mile loop around downtown’s Fremont East district, the shuttle was bumped by a truck illegally backing into an alley near La Comida restaurant.

The shuttle, as programmed, sensed the presence of the truck and stopped. The delivery truck driver, however, didn’t sense the presence of the shuttle and continued backing up, so the truck’s tire made contact with the shuttle.

driverless shuttle accident

Despite the self-driving shuttle being sponsored by AAA, no roadside assistance was required.

The story of the fender bender made international news with misleading headlines like “Driverless Shuttle Crashes Within First Hour on the Road.”

Oh, Internet.

During the incident, there were no injuries (the shuttle only goes 10-15 miles per hour), the truck suffered zero damage and the self-driving shuttle had only a small dent on its front left side from being grazed.

Driverless shuttle accident

The delivery truck driver was cited for illegal backing and ruining a perfectly good paint job.

Granted, a human driver might have reversed in time to avoid the accident, but we’re striking this up to bad luck and awful timing as there were numerous news crews near the scene of the accident due to the earlier news conference.

Company reps say the self-driving shuttle has transported 275,000 passengers without incident.

The shuttle is expected to continue its one-year pilot program as planned. It’s free and stops at three locations along Fremont East and a block south on Carson Avenue.

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  • Manybar Goatfish

    This incident serves as more supporting evidence that people-driven vehicles are way too dangerous and will undoubtedly be outlawed in the foreseeable future. Without humans behind the wheel, wrecks would be virtually non-existent, saving tens of thousands of lives and sparing millions of people unfortunate injuries each year in the US alone.

    • Photoncounter

      Oh hell NO! Turning our transportation system over to robots, bad idea. Who would control the robots? The government. They do such a great job running everything else….

      Some pimply faced kid who lives in his step mothers basement uploads a new piece of code and Bang!, all cars crash at once. Utopia doesn’t exist.

      • Manybar Goatfish

        That’s precisely why you should keep a 6 to 18 months supply of beef jerky in your gun safe at all times. For those times when an ornery pimple faced kid single-handedly breaks the internet, turns off the electric grid, launches nuclear missiles, and makes all cars crash at once. Mmmm, beef jerky!

        • Photoncounter

          Yes, tasty animals, like deer and turkey, also make good jerky too! I am well prepped, better than most. But the jerky and other essentials are not stored in my gun safes, no room.

          • Manybar Goatfish

            Please allow me to suggest Stephen King’s short story “Survivor Type.” It’s an easy read and a real work of art that any true survivalist would enjoy.

            By the way, how much would you like to bet that Stephen wishes the car that smashed his leg had been driven by a robot instead of the human driver that nearly killed him?

          • JeffinOKC

            I don’t want to live in a world where I can’t eat at McDonald’s and look at porno on my phone.

      • chewieb

        I don’t share this fear of the government controlling our cars any more than they already do with basic rules & regulations, but I do wonder how hackable these vehicles might be.

        That’s not a worry for the distant future though – we already know that critical infrastructure all around the country is susceptible to sabotage by hackers.

      • W.B.
  • chewieb

    Good work, VV. Nearly everyone I follow on Twitter reposted this story yesterday with the less-accurate, more-sensational headlines.

    • Thanks. Yeah, it sort of does a disservice to that company and the industry that’s trying to make inroads, especially in creating trust with skeptical public.

  • rich__b

    So why wasn’t this thing programmed to back up when something was coming at it? That’s the problem with robot vehicles, they can’t think. These things aren’t anywhere being ready for prime time.

    • Human driver hits self-driving car. Therefore, we shouldn’t use self-driving cars. Riiiiight.

    • JeffinOKC

      Appears it was programmed to not back into the cars behind it. Robot or human, the smart move was to stop.

  • overloadinco

    “Company reps say the self-driving shuttle has transported 275,000 passengers with one incident.”
    Fixed it for them


    I’m for govt. subsidized driver-less mass transit for everyone. Not so much into driverless cars.

  • Scooter

    This can just be chalked up to Sh*tty luck.I still have no problem checking out this shuttle next time i’m in town.

    • Dave C

      I have no problem riding in that little box at break-neck speed. Maybe holds 10 nervous people? If it’s full,you won’t be allowed to ride.The plan is working out,so far and there will be more of them.
      Electric is SO good,people.My dream car is a Tesla,but I’ll never have one.