The self-driving vehicle, WEpod, will be driving on the campus of Wageningen University. If this test phase is successful, the route will be gradually expanded along the Food Innovation Strip, to the Ede-Wageningen intercity railway station. Gelderland is thus the first region where driverless vehicles will be driving on public roads amidst other traffic for an extended period of time.
On 28 January, Minister Schultz van Haegen (Infrastructure and the Environment) will launch the WEpod test phase. In addition to developing the technology in and around the vehicle itself, issues related to certification, insurance, liability, human behaviour, legislation, and road management and design will also be examined during the test phase. Educational institutions, companies and authorities will be collaborating in a number of areas to develop this knowledge.
The province of Gelderland, initiator of the pilot, is showing in this way that serious work will be done to achieve its goals for a new kind of mobility that is flexible, sustainable and socially responsible. Member of the Provincial Executive Conny Bieze: ‘People will always want to travel. It is only the way in which they travel that will change. This is certain. With this pilot, we can help shape the future. This initiative will contribute to the emergence of new forms of public transport. This innovative approach is seamlessly in line with the ambitions of the innovative FoodValley Region.’
Minister Schultz: ‘With the WEpod, we are entering a completely new stage of the voyage of discovery that the Netherlands embarked on with the aim of making transport more flexible, safer and cleaner. With this project we are taking new steps towards making self-driving transport a reality in practice. It is only through practical testing that we can acquire new knowledge, not just technical knowledge, but also knowledge regarding safety, liability and privacy. Moreover, this initiative opens up new economic opportunities for our automotive sector.’