Las Vegas is hosting a short pilot program for self-driving shuttles that will run a route along Fremont Street between Las Vegas Boulevard and Eighth Street.
The Navya Arma shuttles were first used in France in 2015 and have recently been approved to test in the U.S. starting at the University of Michigan’s MCity autonomous testing facility.
The pilot program in Las Vegas will only take place between January 11 to 20 and is a part of Las Vegas’ long-term strategy of becoming a go-to destination for testing self-driving vehicles. It’s hoped that the two-week trial will launch a full-service line that could begin in the area by fall 2017. The city also features a connected infrastructure with connected traffic lights that can communicate with the Arma.
Driving on public roads with real traffic, the buses run between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. without any help from anyone behind the wheel. The shuttle is also free to ride, although it is expected to cost about $10,000 a month to operate. Much of this cost is going to be subsidized by advertisements found on the exterior and interior of the bus. Local businesses have also expressed an interest in paying for stops to be built by their offices.
The car is fully electric and can run its route for about nine hours before needing to be recharged. While the vehicle’s top speed is 28 mph (45 km/h) the actual operational speed is a sobering 15 mph (25 km/h). It doesn’t actually have a defined front or back, and can move in either direction thanks to four-wheel steering.
But we have another idea about how the shuttle can be subsidized so it can continue to offer free rides: slot machines!