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The vehicle to be used for this six-month trial is a minibus that can carry six passengers. The province of Gelderland decided this week to invest in the project, which can therefore go ahead.
Gelderland has been working on setting up a trial for self-driving cars in ‘Food Valley’ for some time. This is going on in collaboration with Wageningen UR, the technical University of Delft, TNO and the innovation platform Connekt. The idea is that a driverless minibus will shuttle between Ede-Wageningen station and the campus.
The precise route the car will take is not yet clear, says spokesperson Ad van der Have (Facilities and Services). There will be no timetable: the minibus will only go when booked and will not form a part of the public transport system. The minibus will probably go a couple of times a day outside the rush hour. Most of the passengers will be guests of Wageningen UR and the province, says Van der Have. ‘And possibly others at a later stage in the experiment.’ The trial will last six months.
Last Friday the cabinet approved the testing of ‘autonomous’ cars on public roads. This paves the way for applications for waivers from the road licensing body RDW. The cabinets wants the Netherlands to play a pioneering role in the development of self-driving vehicles form ‘trains’. This will make better use of space on the roads and may be safer.
In July last year a self-driving car rode around the campus briefly. The idea came from the Gelderland broadcasting company, which was doing a feature on the testing of self-driving vehicles. The car used on that occasion was a Renault Twizy. The make of the minibus is still a secret for now. According to Van der Have, it is a French company but not a major car manufacturer.