The First Driverless Taxis For Real Passengers Hit the Road in November

By James O Malley on at

We've heard endlessly about driverless cars and how so many different companies and organisations are working on them and making them a reality. But when will we actually be able to use them? The answer, it seems, is November.

The Telegraph reports that the Dutch towns of Wageningen and Ede will be what appears to be the first place in the world that autonomous vehicles will interact with real traffic whilst carrying real passengers, as these adorable little "WePod" vehicles will be able to pick up six passengers at a time and deliver them to their destination. A predecessor model has previously been used on university campuses - but never before has an autonomous vehicle entered public service on big, bad roads.

It sounds as though the service will work a bit like Uber, as passengers will have to summon up the pod using an app on their phone, telling them where they wanted to be picked up and dropped off - and then the vehicles will build its own itinerary of where it needs to go. (It isn't exactly clear but it sounds like it could function like Uber Pool - picking up and dropping off people as it goes, rather than doing exclusive journeys for each passenger).

As it is early days, at least initially the pods will only operate on fixed routes, and will avoid potentially tricky conditions such as bad weather, rush hour and night driving. The plan is to expand to other routes and destinations next May. Pods will also be limited to travelling at just 25mph. Pods will be tracked using a combination of GPS, radar, lasers and also cameras: Apparently the pods will have a built in database of landmarks, so that they can still navigate even if connection to GPS is lost by travelling under dense leaves or through a tunnel. [The Telegraph]