Hasselt’s self-riding shuttle experiment discontinued after crash

Hardly three weeks after its launch, the self-riding shuttle in Hasselt has been removed from public grounds. The autonomous shuttle did not always react as it should and was considered too dangerous for public use.

Three weeks ago, the city of Hasselt (Limburg, Belgium) proudly announced the introduction of a self-driving shuttle, seating seven passengers and providing an autonomous connection between the parking of the Trixxo Arena and the PXL academy campus. It was Flanders’ second similar project (after Mechelen) on public territory.

Legally liable

The project was meant as an experiment and would be available for one month – from October 17th till November 8th. The shuttle could ride entirely autonomously, but since it moved on public grounds, it was legally liable to have a steward on board to intervene if necessary. And that’s precisely what happened after an incident with a pedestrian.

“The shuttle was moving very slowly when suddenly, a pedestrian passed in front of it. The steward on board intervened immediately, but that took a few seconds, and the shuttle ended up in the bushes,” explained mobility expert Kris Peeters, who happened to be onboard. Apart from some scratches on the vehicle, nothing serious happened.

‘Promising technologies’

Still, the autonomous shuttle has been decommissioned for the time being. The technology is considered not to be ready for use on public roads. Despite the setback in Hasselt, local authorities in Hasselt remain optimistic about “testing promising technologies in controlled living laboratories”. It’s the only way to contribute to intelligent solutions, they say.

However, the soon-to-be-launched shuttles on the Terhills domain in Genk (Limburg, Belgium) will remain operational and safe. They move on private territory and even in their own bedding. And since they’re only used on private grounds, they don’t need to be staffed.

They will move around the touristic Terhills site in Limburg, located on the former Eisden mining site in the heart of the Euregio region. They will cover a 2,5 km route passing by the Terhills Hotel, Elaisa Wellness, Terhills Cablepark, and the main entrance of National Park Hoge Kempen. Every year, the region welcomes about one million visitors and lodgers.

 

 

 

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