Technology

AAA Brings Autonomous Vehicle Pilot to Las Vegas

The auto club will launch the first-ever autonomous vehicle pilot intended for broad public use in a city known for its strong tourism game.

Folks who are forward-thinking about the value of technology might see self-driving vehicles as a pretty awesome shade of the future that’s on the way.

But not everyone’s like that. People are skeptical. And the idea that a vehicle can work efficiently without any human input freaks some of them out.

So, if you’re AAA, how do you calm those nerves? The strategy that the automotive group appears to be using is simple: Put a self-driving shuttle, free to the public, in one of the most popular tourist destinations in the U.S.

This week, AAA Northern California, Nevada & Utah (AAA) announced that it would put a driverless shuttle pilot into one of the busiest parts of Las Vegas, the city’s Innovation District, to encourage interest in a technology that many people have heard about but few have seen up close.

Tim Condon, the head of the regional AAA chapter, said that the goal of the effort was to allow the public to see how an autonomous vehicle would work in a real-world environment—as well as for the auto club to get public feedback during the program on the innovative technology.

“We believe our Las Vegas pilot will allow the public to experience this exciting technology for themselves and allow their voices to be heard as AAA studies how autonomous transportation can be safely deployed for public use,” Condon said in a news release.

The vehicle, a NAVYA Arma equipped with a variety of safety features, will be operated by the French transit giant Keolis along a three-stop path, and can hold as many as eight people at once. The city was chosen in part because of the region’s climate and in part because of the state’s progressive approach to autonomous vehicle laws.

Beyond giving people the chance to check out a self-driving vehicle up close, the program will also have a charitable element: AAA will donate $1 for every passenger who rides the service over the next year to the Las Vegas Victims’ Fund, set up in the wake of the recent shooting. The auto club will donate a minimum of $100,000 as part of the program.

(Handout photo)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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