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Passenger badly injured when a driverless shuttle abuptly stops


SALT LAKE CITY — UDOT has been testing an autonomous shuttle this year. During a test this week the driverless shuttle come to a sudden stop, injuring a passenger.

The passenger, a state employee, hit the floor of the shuttle, badly bruising his face.

UDOT says it is sorry about the accident. UDOT remains confident in the driverless shuttle technology.

“EasyMile places the highest value on the safety of its passenger including the design, deployment, and operations of our vehicles,” said a spokesperson for EasyMile.

The spokesperson says that the driverless shuttle is designed to stop “abruptly in response to a detected obstacle.”

As part of the testing, the shuttle has been transporting passengers on a loop through a complex of state office buildings in Salt Lake City.

Gene Petrie, is an employee at the Utah State Tax Commission. Taking part in the pilot program, when the shuttle abruptly stopped he slid off his seat and hit the floor with his forehead, according to a co-worker.

Medical professionals treated Petrie. He was back at work the next day.

“The sensors on the shuttle noticed what it thought was an obstacle in the way, and initiated an emergency stop,” said John Gleason, a UDOT spokesman.

UDOT is still trying to figure out what happened that caused the shuttle to detect the obstacle that initiated the sudden stop.

UDOT has been testing the shuttle for more than three months. Approximately 3,000 riders have used the autonomous transportation.

“We have a lot to learn about this technology,” said Gleason. “But, we’re going to take every opportunity that we can to learn and to improve.”