Self-driving cars are all the rage in the technology world right now, but how about self-driving mass transit?
The Netherlands is getting its own self-driving electric buses to move passengers between Wageningen and Ede, about 11 kilometres apart.
Named the WEpod, the shuttle buses can carry six people at the breakneck speed of… 25 kilometres an hour.
The test starts in November 2015 and will ferry students of Wageningen University to the Ede-Wageningen train station.
The vehicles won’t have a driver, but will be monitored from a remote control room to ensure they’re functioning safety. There’s even a backup plan if the WePod’s self-driving abilities don’t work out: a joystick will be installed.
What’s unique is that the WePod will travel on public roads, without designated lanes or barriers. For now they won’t run in challenging conditions such as bad weather, at night or during rush hour.
If all goes well, it’s expected the vehicles will be expanded to other routes and regions in the Netherlands, though hopefully at a slightly faster speed than 25 kilometres an hour.
The project, which cost 3.5 million euros, will see just two self-driving shuttles on the road at first.