Las Vegas, which is famed for its nightlife and casinos, is all set to add another feather to its cap with the launch of an autonomous shuttle bus.

The cultural hub of Nevada is going to be the place where the fully-electric, driverless shuttle bus "ARMA" will make its debut.

Presently, French company NAVYA, which is the manufacturer of ARMA, has been tasked with conducting a test run on Fremont Street till Jan. 20.

The Paris-based company has been operating its self-driving shuttles in France since 2015 when it introduced a fleet of around 30 vehicles.

However, this is the first time that the self-driving shuttle bus has been deployed in the United States, albeit for testing.

"NAVYA is delighted to be part of the innovative, new model of urban transportation solutions Mayor Goodman and our transportation partners at Keolis are bringing to the city of Las Vegas. Busy areas such as the Fremont East Entertainment District of downtown Las Vegas are the perfect place for the ARMA as it allows people to move easily and safely while reducing car congestion and pollution," noted Henri Coron, NAVYA's VP.

Maiden Voyage

The ARMA commenced its journey on American soil when it hit the Fremont Road on Tuesday, Jan. 10. Local government officials including Mayor Carolyn Goodman, Councilmen Ricki Barlow, and Bob Coffin were present.

The official ceremony was staged just outside the Container Park — the cornerstone of Tony Hsieh's Downtown Project.

Mayor Goodman admits that she was very nervous at first when taking the ride but praised the vehicle for being clean, with beautiful air and swift movement.

"What a great day for us, what a great day for technology, innovation, ingenuity and excitement in the great city of Las Vegas." shared the Mayor.

Councilman Barlow walked down memory lane when he talked about the TV show The Jetsons. He noted that today, with all these innovations, people are actually living in the age of the said show. Coffin was also pleased to be a part of this momentous occasion.

The Autonomous Shuttle

NAVYA has partnered with Keolis, France's largest private transport company and arranged a huge funding of about $34 million dollars to expand its services.

NAVYA began testing in December 2016 at a facility in the University of Michigan for connected and automated vehicles, and finally unveiled the ARMA at the recently-concluded Consumer Electronics Show 2017.

The autonomous shuttle can accommodate up to 12 passengers and can move safely at a speed of almost 27 mph. However, it will run at a speed of only 12 mph during the test runs.

Reports suggest that the vehicle will run between the Las Vegas Boulevard and Eighth Street from 10 a.m. till 6 p.m. Rides will be free for any passenger hopping onto the autonomous shuttle during this testing phase.

Coron estimates that the cost of running the service may go up to $10,000 per month. However, Jorge Cervantes, Las Vegas executive director of community development, assured that a major part of this cost will be shared by the advertising companies and they will also try to make the ride less expensive for commuters, even free if possible.

Cervantes also added that after the testing phase of two weeks is completed, it is expected that the service becomes operations from late summer to early fall.

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