The city of Las Vegas is offering a new thrill as it is currently testing Arma, a self-driving, fully electric and tiny bus service.
Self-driving technologies have started being more common. More and more automakers are offering such variants. And the network of electric vehicles is expanding as well. All current variants are seeking a common target. The development of a fully autonomous vehicle.
But until then, they are introducing a new option. More exactly, authorities are testing the introduction of public-serving self-driving vehicles. A first such transportation means may be Arma. This latter is developed by Navya.
Navya is a Paris, France-based company. The startup is specialized in electric and driverless technologies. Arme, its product, is already running in six countries. It is on the French, Swiss, and Australian roads. It can also be found in New Zealand, Qatar, and Singapore.
And the United States, or at least Las Vegas, could soon join them. Navya presented its driverless bus during CES 2017, which was held in Vegas. A week after it ended, the company began public tests.
Its run will last in between January 11 to 20. And its radius will cover three blocks. Arma will cover a 0.2 miles-long route. It will drive along Fremont Street 128 and 723. It is in between Las Vegas Boulevard and 8th Street.
Arma has a total capacity of 15 passengers. It offers 11 seats with an additional space for 4 standing people. Its first trip marked a milestone in public transportation. It was the first public self-driving vehicle to run on the United States roads.
Those wishing and willing to ride the bus can do so for free. The public will benefit from the test period. Its run will end on January 20. Arma hits the roads every day at 10 A.M. It retires from the streets at 7 P.M., local time. Its weekend working hours are somewhat different.
Arma’s driverless bus is similar to a Monorail system. The bus does not turn around when it reaches the end of its route. Instead, it simply reverses directions.
Arma does not have the traditional brake steering wheel controls. In their place, it has a touch screen tablet. This displays vehicle route information. It also sports an emergency exit button. This can be pressed by anyone.
The driverless bus can travel at about 30 mph. Nonetheless, it has a capped speed along Fremont. It only travels at up to 16mph. It also runs according to a pre-programmed route. It can be steered outside of the program by an operator. Arma can be steered by using an Xbox controller.
Francis Julien went to offer details. He is the Keolis Las Vegas operations General Manager. Keolis is Navya’s partner in the Vegas trial run. Julien pointed out that the bus has a safety driver. The designated driver will mostly fill up a customer service role.
Margaret Kurtz, a city spokesperson, offered additional details. She stated that a part of Fremont Street has been closed off to other traffic. It will remain as such, for the time being.
Back in 2011, Nevada became the first state to allow autonomous vehicle operations. Nonetheless, it imposed certain restrictions.
Arma’s trial results remain to be seen. But the aforementioned Julien is expecting “extended” tests. These could also be run in other United States cities, not just Vegas.
An Arma bus costs about $266,000. In its current offer, it must be purchased with a few additions. These are a five-year service. It will also come with a maintenance contract. This will cost an extra $213,000.
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