Best Way to Get Around Amsterdam? WEpods Come to GTC Europe

by Brian Caulfield

It’s not always easy negotiating Amsterdam’s complex cityscape, jammed with proudly texting bicyclists, narrow canals and traffic-choked streets.

WEpods may one day be the best option of all.

As the world’s first autonomous shuttle using public roads, WEpods promise mobility — with the security and safety delivered up by a system trained using sophisticated deep learning techniques.

The autonomous pods — powered by our DRIVE PX self-driving vehicle technology — are now being tested on public roads in the Dutch province of Gelderland. The system lets riders summon a shuttle by just tapping on their smartphone (see “WEpod Becomes First Driverless Car to Play in Traffic”).

One of the tidy white mini-buses is at our inaugural GTC Europe to give attendees rides. Step aboard a pod — which has seating for six — and your view out of the expansive windows is unimpeded by a driver hunched over a wheel at the front. In fact there is no steering wheel. No pedals either.

Aided by cameras, radar and laser sensors, the shuttle travels a loop of several hundred meters in front of the Amsterdam Passenger Terminal, where our event is hosted, smoothly executing a U-turn at one end of its route.

The driverless shuttle navigated a public road filled with bicycles, cars and trucks dropping off goods to nearby stores. And, of course, there’s always that one dude. A jaywalker stepped in front of the shuttle, just to see if it will stop in time. It always does, even if the WEpods — which are still in development — occasionally need a nudge from the engineer riding on board to get it going again after its emergency stop.