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.

This first entry of a self-driving shuttle onto the public roads shows we may receive autonomous public transportation before we're able to purchase a self-driving car of our own. Indeed, rewriting any part of society doesn't happen overnight and this kind of slow expansion of fixed-route autonomous shuttles, growing into a fleet of public transportation options may pave the way to more public acceptance for self-driving vehicles. In this time, researchers will gather more information, collaborate, and hopefully make the streets a better, more efficient place. Baby steps.


Natalie has been writing professionally for about 6 years. After graduating from Ithaca College with a degree in Feature Writing, she snagged a job at where she had the opportunity to review all the latest consumer gadgets. Since then she has become a writer for hire, freelancing for various websites. In her spare time, you may find her riding her motorcycle, reading YA novels, hiking, or playing video games. Follow her on Twitter: @nat_schumaker

Photo Credit:

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

In a first for humankind, China successfully sprouts a seed on the Moon

China's Chang'e 4 biosphere experiment marks a first for humankind.

Image source: CNSA
Surprising Science
  • China's Chang'e 4 lunar lander touched down on the far side of the moon on January 3.
  • In addition to a lunar rover, the lander carried a biosphere experiment that contains five sets of plants and some insects.
  • The experiment is designed to test how astronauts might someday grow plants in space to sustain long-term settlements.
Keep reading Show less

A world map of Virgin Mary apparitions

She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.

Strange Maps
  • For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
  • These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
  • Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
Keep reading Show less

Love in a time of migrants: on rethinking arranged marriages

Arranged marriages and Western romantic practices have more in common than we might think.

Culture & Religion

In his book In Praise of Love (2009), the French communist philosopher Alain Badiou attacks the notion of 'risk-free love', which he sees written in the commercial language of dating services that promise their customers 'love, without falling in love'.

Keep reading Show less