February 1, 2016 / 4:43 PM / 2 years ago

Driverless shuttle bus to take to Dutch public roads

(This Jan. 28 story has been corrected to remove reference to world first)

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - An electric, driverless shuttle bus will take to the Dutch public streets on Thursday, rolling six passengers along a 200 meter (yard) stretch of road.

The WePod, one of a fleet to be rolled out in coming years, will ride back and forth in the central Dutch agricultural town of Wageningen.

Several trials of so-called autonomous vehicles are under way in the automotive and technology industries, from Tesla’s Model S sedan, which can change lanes with minimal driver input, to plans by Google and Daimler to introduce driverless vehicles.

The shuttle pilot project will be expanded in coming months and will eventually be used as public transport along a 6 kilometer route in the town, said Iris van Cattenburch of Connekt, a group of companies developing sustainable public transport.

In April, the Netherlands will hold the first trial with driverless semi-trucks at Rotterdam port, which autonomous road trains sending cargo from Europe’s biggest port, throughout the continent by 2019.

The trial of the WePod, developed with the Delft Technical University for roughly 3 million euros ($3.3 million), will be streamed live at wepods.com/, at 1415 local time.

When fully operational, the WePods will travel at 25 km per hour.

Reporting By Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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