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Culture & Religion

This Driverless Vehicle Is the First to Take Public Roads

Do you feel safe?

Would you ride in an autonomous vehicle? The question concerning the future of our roads divides us.

The Wepod is the next big step in the conversation. It’s a self-driving shuttle that’s taking to the public roads in the Netherlands. This electric shuttle will be driving passengers between the towns of Wageningen and Ede this November (weather and traffic permitting).

The six-passenger shuttle bus Wepod does have a few restrictions. Its max speed will be 15.5 miles per hour and it won’t travel during rush hour, at night, or in bad weather. A control room will be keeping an eye on the vehicle whenever it’s on the road and a number of other technologies, such as cameras, radar, lasers, and GPS, will be monitoring the shuttle and its environment at all times.

If we’re being honest, you’ve probably already entrusted your life to an autonomous vehicle. Ever taken the Rotterdam Rivium shuttle bus, the Heathrow shuttles, or the Masdar pods? Then you’ve ridden in a self-driving vehicle restricted to a fixed track. The entry of autonomous vehicles into our lives won’t be so sudden — it’s going to be filled with baby steps.

A control room will be keeping an eye on the vehicle whenever it’s on the road…

The cars will also be restricted to a fixed route, but there are plans to expand to other regions in May 2016, pending good results during this testing phase. At its core the project focuses on developing and sharing knowledge with others in order to achieve a common goal: making autonomous vehicles a reality.

Some are unsettled by the loss of control. Expert Jerry Kaplan calls into question the computational ethics within these autonomous vehicles. He’s not convinced that they’ll be able to make the tough calls in extreme scenarios.


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