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Nobody’s Driving

I don’t trust a driverless shuttle. It’s like a headless horseman.

Nobody’s Driving

Well, the much-anticipated driverless shuttle was unveiled to much fanfare last month in Downtown Las Vegas. The 15-foot shuttle, built by a French company and named “Arma,” uses LiDAR technology and GPS to navigate. It can detect obstacles and automatically brake to avoid collisions. It goes around 12 mph, but can get up to 27 in a high-speed chase.

Rides are free among three stops on Fremont Street.

Don’t worry. There’s a human attendant there at all times, ready to take control of the vehicle if needed. What could go wrong?

Personally, I don’t trust a driverless shuttle. It’s like a headless horseman.

The pilot project is being conducted by transportation company Keolis and AAA of Northern California Nevada and Utah.

“From the horseless carriage to the driverless car, AAA has built its legacy on making travel safer, easier and more enjoyable,” AAA President and CEO Tim Condon told Forbes. “AAA believes autonomous technology has the potential to save lives and improve traffic safety.”

Naturally, there was a crash in the first hour of service.

It was a “minor collision with a delivery truck that was backing up,” according to Forbes. The shuttle, according to an official statement, “did what it was supposed to do,” in that it stopped to avoid the accident. The only problem was that no one told the human truck driver to stop.

No one got hurt, and the collision only “grazed the fender” of the shuttle. In a statement, the partners said they were not surprised at the incident, since “the biggest problem with autonomous auto safety is largely in the hands of humans on the wheels of non-self-driving cars.”

In other words, to be completely safe, the self-driving vehicle needs to operate only where there are no humans.

We’ll keep our eyes on this project. Particularly when we’re walking along Fremont Street.

This other Las Vegas casino news comes, as always, from station WXYZ in Detroit. According to the ABC affiliate’s website, a man named Gregory Bolusan has been using the M Resort in Las Vegas as sort of a training ground for casino robbery.

So far, it’s not going so good.

According to the report, Bolusan has staged three daring robberies at the M Resort, successfully making off with a grand total of…

Well, ultimately, nothing. He got caught.

On August 24, our man allegedly entered the M Resort at 3:54 a.m. with a handgun and a backpack. He demanded that the cage employee hand over all of their money. The employee looked at him, and bolted.

After what must have been an awkward silence, Bolusan himself bolted.

According to the report, Bolusan returned to the M a few weeks after his aborted robbery, again pointing a gun at the casino cage people and demanding money. This time, he made away with almost $30,000.

After reviewing the surveillance video, casino officials easily identified Bolusan, because he had worn the same black ninja-style clothing that he wore in the first robbery, and wore a similar backpack, and pointed a similar gun. He also used the same vehicle, which, like the robbery itself, was caught on surveillance cameras.

(Casino surveillance people would have had a harder time identifying Yosemite Sam.)

After reviewing his first two attempts, our man decided wearing the same clothes had been the sole flaw in an otherwise perfect plan. He went back to the M on October 28. Only this time, he wore different clothes. Apparently, what must have been a very stylish outfit threw authorities off their game. He left the M that night with $33,480 in cash.

But damn, the car!

He had used the same vehicle that had been the subject of surveillance-video binge watching at the M, and he parked it in the same spot as the first two times, and just to ensure the security of his plan, entered the casino through the exact same doors as the first two times.

Bolusan was arrested and booked into the Henderson Detention Center on several counts of attempted robbery and burglary. He avoided an armed robbery charge because it turns out he had brandished a fake gun.

I hear he was apprehended in Downtown Las Vegas after he inadvertently tried to get away on the driverless shuttle. An alert human attendant stopped the shuttle, after being awoken by a policeman.

Yes, I made that last bit up. But be careful out there. You never know when these shuttles are going to rise up and eliminate humans altogether.

So, is there a “drunk-in-the-street sensor” on the shuttle? If not, it might be something to look into.

Frank Legato is editor of Global Gaming Business magazine. He has been writing on gaming topics since 1984, when he launched and served as editor of Casino Gaming magazine. Legato, a nationally recognized expert on slot machines, has served as editor and reporter for a variety of gaming publications, including Public Gaming, IGWB, Casino Journal, Casino Player, Strictly Slots and Atlantic City Insider. He has an B.A. in journalism and an M.A. in communications from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. He is the author of the books, How To Win Millions Playing Slot Machines... Or Lose Trying, and Atlantic City: In Living Color.  

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