The first autonomous vehicle to begin testing on public roads in the Netherlands has started operation this week. The vehicle is a Wepod shuttle and the company behind the shuttle hopes to begin operating a fleet of Wepod shuttles in the coming years.
This new Wepod testing is the first in which the vehicle will be on the roads for extended periods. Ultra Pod driverless vehicles have been used at Heathrow airport on closed routes for some time and will be used in London later this year. Wepod is testing its driverless bus on the campus of Wageningen University.
Once the testing phase is deemed successful, the Province of Gelderland where the test was commissioned could expand the route to include other stops in the region and possibly to the Ede-Wageningen intercity railway station. Wepods are completely automated and have no controls for manual operation.
Each shuttle can hold six people and has a range of 62 miles per charge. Maximum speed is 25mph, but during testing top speed is limited to 16 mph. The vehicle uses detailed route maps, cameras, radar, and laser sensors to navigate its route safely. A human in a control room has the ability to send commands to the pod and talk to passengers if needed.