This week has seen a new electric driverless shuttle bus enter into a trial in the Dutch town of Wageningen. The new WePod, which was developed at Delft Technical University and is cable of carrying six passengers, embarked on a short 200m journey along a stretch of road by the side of the town’s lake.
The plan is to roll-out a fleet of WePods over the next few years along a four mile route of public roads in the town. During its test phase the WePod’s will not travel in challenging conditions, such as in rush hour traffic, at night or in bad weather, and a control room will monitor the vehicle and safety of its passengers. The vehicle has a maximum speed of 25km per hour.
Cameras onboard the WePods map landmarks, which are used as an alternative navigation tool when GPS accuracy is masked by road obstacles like trees. The WEpod can be booked using an app which will allow passengers to reserve a seat and specify their starting points and their destinations. Vehicles are expected to select their itineraries independently.
EasyMile, a joint venture between robotics company Robosoft and vehicle manufacturer Ligier Group, designed the driverless shuttles for Citymobil2 - a pilot programme for automated transportation systems in Europe funded by the EU. The project cost €3.5m or about $4m is USD.
EZ10, the predecessor to the WEPod, has successfully transported 19,000 passengers in Vantaa, Finland and on a university campus in Lausanne, Switzerland.