On 28 January, the Dutch Minister Schultz van Haegen (Infrastructure and the Environment) launched the test phase of the fully automated vehicle WEPod on the campus of Wageningen University. If this test phase is successful, the route could be gradually expanded to the Ede-Wageningen intercity railway station. Gelderland could therefore become the first region where driverless vehicles will operate on public roads amidst other traffic for an extended period of time. The province of Gelderland, initiator of the WEPod pilot, is interested in exploring new ways of travelling, in particular new forms of public transport.
The EZ10 vehicle, supplied by EasyMile, has been adopted for the WEpods. This vehicle was designed for the CityMobil2 project, of which EasyMile is one of the two suppliers of an automated system within the project. The vehicle can accommodate 6 passengers and they are accessible to wheelchair users. The maximum speed is 40km/h; however, they will operate at 25 km/h during the test phase. The vehicles are electrically powered with a range of approximately 100km. A control room monitors the vehicle and safety, but cannot take over the driving task.
For the time being, there is a steward in the vehicle who acts a guide for the passengers. The WEpods drive along a fixed route and transport passengers across the Wageningen UR campus, and will take them from the university to Ede-Wageningen railway station. In the long term, the system can be expanded to include more routes and other regions of the Netherlands.
For more information about the initiative, please click here.