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Driverless pods hit the streets of the Netherlands

Netherlands is yet another country to see driverless electric shuttles transporting people on its roads.

We've seen similar things in other parts of the world, including the ParkShuttle bus in Rotterdam, the Heathrow Pod in London and the LUTZ Pathfinder in Milton Keynes, but this one is somewhat different.

Unlike the abovementioned, the electric shuttle in the Netherlands will take passengers between the two towns of Wageningen and Ede in the province of Gelderland, and will operate on regular roads amongst public traffic.

Starting from November, the "WEpod” will transport passengers only under ideal conditions – it will not operate during rush hours, night or bad weather. A control room will monitor the vehicle and safety of its passengers. According to a Telegraph report, the six-person vehicle has a maximum speed of 25 kilometres per hour.

“According to Joris Ijsselmuiden, a researcher at Wageningen University which is testing the pods, the vehicles will also be equipped with multiple cameras,” it says.

“The cameras are used to map landmarks, which is used as an alternative navigation tool when GPS accuracy is masked by road obstacles like trees.”

The electric pod was originally designed by French vehicle manufacturer and robotic specialists EasyMile. It was developed for Citymobil2, an EU-funded project looking at automated road transport systems across urban Europe.

Through Citymobil2, the electric driverless shuttles have already transported 19,000 passengers in Vantaa, Finland and carried passengers on the EPFL university campus, in Lausanne, Switzerland. The shuttles will drive over a fixed route at start, but the routes are expected to expand soon.