An electric, driverless shuttle bus has taken to Dutch public roads on Thursday, rolling six passengers along a 200m stretch of road in the first trial of its kind worldwide.
The WePod, one of a fleet to be rolled out in coming years, took a few people on a short journey back and forth along the side of a lake in the central Dutch agricultural town of Wageningen.
At 5 miles per hour (8kmph), it did not set a speed record, “but an unmanned vehicle has never been used on public roads”, the project’s technical director, Jan Willem van der Wiel, said. “This is a milestone.”
Several trials of autonomous vehicles are under way in the automotive and technology industries, from Tesla’s Model S sedan, which can change lanes with minimal driver input, to plans by Google and Daimler to introduce driverless vehicles.
“There are initiatives all over the world, but this is the first time one will operate without a driver, on a public road,” said Iris van Cattenburch of Connekt, a group of companies developing sustainable public transport.
The project will be expanded in coming months and will eventually be used as public transport along a 4-mile route in the town, she said.
In April, the Netherlands will hold the first trial of driverless semi-trucks at the port of Rotterdam, with the aim of sending cargo using autonomous road trains from Europe’s biggest port throughout the continent by 2019.
The trial of the WePod was developed with Delft Technical University for roughly €3m (£2.3m). When fully operational, the WePods will travel at 15mph.
[Source:- The Gurdian]