Experiments with self-driving cars will take a new direction on Thursday when the WEpod trials in Wageningen take to the university campus roads.
The WEpod shuttle buses, which have no steering wheel or pedals, are electric and have a maximum speed of 25 kph.
If the campus trials are a success, June will see the shuttles begin to use public roads, travelling a pre-programmed route between Bennekom and the Ede-Wageningen railway station. The Dutch driving authority RDW has given official permission for the trials to take place. The project owners say this is the ‘test phase of the first pilot in the world of a self-driving vehicle on a public highway‘.
The shuttle buses cannot be used at night or in bad weather and each will have a steward on board who will use a joystick control on two busy sections of the route.
The WEpods project is a joint venture between the Gelderland university, Delft University, the TNO research institute and others. Gelderland province has put €3.4m into the project as part of its efforts to find flexible and more sustainable options than traditional regional bus services.
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