The Self-Driving Mass Transit Movement Gets Slow-Bus Start in Netherlands

Crawling toward future, 'cause 'Speed' this ain't. 


The Dutch cities of Ede and Wageningen lie 11 kilometers (6.8 freedom miles) apart — too far to stroll, but the perfect distance for a shuttle that goes at jogging speed and has no driver. Starting this winter, students looking to escape Wageningen University will be able to take wee six-seater self-driving buses to the train station in Ede. The buses will max out at about 15 mph, and they’ll be able to travel along the roads just like normal vehicles, just not in crappy weather or high-volume traffic.

The buses have previously trundled through Switzerland, and are planned to permanent fixture on Netherland streets for a cool 3.5 million euro:

The trick with the buses, know as WePods, boils down to look ma, no driver! In the case a human needs to overthrow the computer master, it will be done remotely via a joystick jockey.

Mass transit is lousy with automated vehicle potential. In an interview with Forbes, University of Michigan economist Donald Grimes forecasts automated public transit will be less like buses now but closer to a super-efficient taxi service; rather than remain beholden to a specific route or loop, the buses could adapt their paths based on demand and where the riders are.

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