Navya suspends autonomous bus trials in Vienna after collision

19 Jul 2019

A Navya autonomous shuttle bus. Image: Navya

The trials of Navya’s driverless buses in Vienna began on 6 June.

Navya, one of the companies competing in the race to bring driverless public transport to major cities across the world, had to call off trials in Vienna this week after a driverless bus collided with a woman.

The autonomous bus was travelling at a speed of 12kph yesterday (18 July) when it struck a woman in the knee, according to Bloomberg.

Future Human

Navya gave a statement to The Verge claiming that witnesses had seen the pedestrian wearing headphones and looking at a mobile phone as she crossed the street and “walked against” the side of the bus. The company said the woman suffered “minor scratches” as a result of the collision.

Although the woman sustained only minor injuries, trials of the Navya SAS vehicle have been suspended by Vienna’s transit authority until a full investigation is completed.

Vehicle trials

Navya’s trials of driverless buses in Vienna began on 6 June, with participation from the Austrian Institute of Technology and Siemens Mobility. A professional driver was required to be on board while the units were operating.

This isn’t the first PR setback for the self-driving vehicle movement, nor is it the first incident of this kind that has slowed Navya down.

In 2017, a Navya autonomous shuttle bus collided with a lorry while travelling at 25kph. A spokesperson for the city of Las Vegas said at the time: “The shuttle did what it was supposed to do and stopped. Unfortunately, the human element, the driver of the truck, didn’t stop.”

In 2018, an autonomous Uber car was involved in a fatal collision in Arizona. The incident occurred while the car’s backup driver was reportedly watching Hulu.

An Arizona police report claimed that the incident was “entirely avoidable”, but the state attorney eventually announced that Uber would not be charged with a crime following an investigation into the incident.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic