Dutch allow autonomous vehicles on public roads
Since Monday, July 1st, self-driving cars are allowed to hit the Dutch roads without a driver aboard. The only thing they need is permission of the Minister of Infrastructure. Until now, autonomous cars could only drive around with a driver on board, just in case. Although there still are enough issues to be taken care of, the Dutch are ‘most ready’ for the autonomous car.
“Self-driving transport can improve traffic safety an reduce traffic congestion,” explains Minister Cora Van Nieuwenhuizen. “It’s important to prepare our roads and regulations for the advent of the autonomous car. That is why we want to allow car manufacturers to experiment with such vehicles on the public road.”
Safety, however, stays a priority, and the conditions for self-driving vehicles are severe. The remote driver must have a valid driver’s license, and tests can only happen at a particular moment in time and in restricted areas.
The first actual test project is already planned. In the Rivium business area in Capelle aan den IJssel, an autonomous public transport bus is already driving around since 1999. Until now, the ParkShuttle only had a limited route, but the municipality wants to expand the trip. So, now the self-driving bus can also use public roads. The vehicle, therefore, will be technically prepared to drive among mixed traffic.
It will be equipped with an obstacle detection system and a 360-degree view. “At the beginning of next year, we will start our tests on public roads,” explain Robbert Lohman, co-founder of 2getthere, the company that is building the technology for the new ParkShuttle. “The autonomous ParkShuttle should be transporting passengers by the end of 2020.”