The WEpods, as they're called for this particular project, will ferry passengers from the train station in Ede, Netherlands to the Wageningen University via public roads. Riders will be able to summon the pods with a smartphone app, then the robotic system will steer them to their destination at a leisurely top speed of about 15 mph. Hopefully, the boxes are less - to make up a word - smothersome than the ones Ligier used in their 2011 demonstration.
The WEpods will ferry passengers from the train station to the University via public roads.
The project came to be after Google denied the team use of its autonomous vehicle technology. The Easymile team decided to create its own open source system with the help of Technical University of Delft, and about $3.8 million in government funds. They then tested the WEpods on a 200-meter stretch of public road, and are now planning to put them to use on the longer point-to-point route between Ede and Wageningen beginning in May.
The WEpods won't be Europe's first autonomous shuttle system, though. The Induct Navia is already being tested in Switzerland and the UK. Also, the EU is funding the Citymobil2 project, which has been testing such autonomous systems with the aim of creating a legal framework for these shuttles to share the roads with human drivers.
Of course, driverless vehicle projects are taking place in other parts of the globe, too. If these programs are successful, it's likely we'll see more and more people putting their commutes in the hands of robots designed to safely move them where they need to go.