Self-driving hits the strip: First driverless shuttle buses on US streets begin trials in Las Vegas

  • Navya shuttle carries 12 people who can travel for free, and can reach 45 km/h
  • 10-day test runs along Fremont Street in the downtown entertainment district

There's a new thrill on the streets of downtown Las Vegas.

High and low rollers alike can climb aboard what officials say is the first driverless electric shuttle operating on a public U.S. street.

The oval-shaped shuttle that carries 12 people began a 10-day, free pilot program Tuesday along Fremont Street in the downtown entertainment district.

In this Jan. 12, 2017, photo, the Navya Arma autonomous vehicle drives down a street in Las Vegas. The driverless electric shuttle has begun carrying passengers in a test program in a downtown Las Vegas entertainment district.

Mayor Carolyn Goodman was among the first public officials to hop a ride on the vehicle developed by the French company Navya.

The company has shuttles in use in other countries, and one is being tested at a University of Michigan research site.

It uses GPS and electronic sensors that company spokesman Martin Higgins says will stop it if a person or dog runs in front. 

During the week-long pilot, the public will be invited to take free test rides of the driverless vehicle, which carries up to a dozen passengers and was designed for use by state and local governments and transit agencies and operators as an efficient, clean-energy alternative to the fossil-fuel powered vehicles of today. 

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