Large-scale tests with self-driving cars to hit Dutch roads

The Netherlands wants to be a front-runner of self-driving cars in Europe

Self-driving cars could appear on Dutch public roads soon, as the government is preparing regulations that will make large-scale public road tests legal, the country's Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment said Monday.

Self-driving cars could help reduce traffic jams, make roads safer and help the environment, minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen wrote in a letter to the Dutch House of Representatives.

Currently, Dutch drivers have limited abilities to hand control over their steering wheel to a car's computer. Automatic parking for instance is permitted, but to make more extensive manoeuvres possible regulations needs to change, Schultz said. She plans to propose changes to the current regulations by early 2015. Until then, only small scale tests are possible.

Real-life tests with self-driving vehicles are essential to make the necessary rules, Schultz said, adding that the tests also help other drivers to get used to the phenomenon. To keep up with the pace of technological innovation, Schultz plans to keep the new rules flexible and quite general.

Schultz is planning to put self-driving cars on the European agenda when the Netherlands holds the EU presidency in 2016, she said.

One large-scale test request is already on the table. A consortium of the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), together with truck producer DAF, the Port of Rotterdam Authority and others wants to run tests with several autonomous trucks driving in a train, Schultz said.

The planned tests will increase in complexity, beginning first on private land and later moving to public roads if the technology proves safe enough. The consortium wants to develop a driving system for autonomous trucks within the next five years and plans to sell it to logistics companies for use on public roads.

A request to test self-driving cars on public roads is also being prepared, said Riender Happee, project leader of the Dutch Automated Vehicle Initiative (DAVI) and assistant professor at the Delft University of Technology.

Last year, DAVI tested self-driving cars on public roads with an engineer behind the wheel. Next, the initiative wants to perform a similar test with regular drivers, Happee said. Public road tests with regular drivers could happen within the next two years after having proved the safety of the experiment in a controlled environment, he said.

DAVI cars can drive automatically but are also able to communicate with other vehicles and infrastructure in order to make self-driving cars safer on existing roads in normal traffic.

It will probably take until 2020 before people can buy a self-driving car and take it for a spin, Happee said. "The technique is ready but we need to prove it is safe," he said, adding that automobile manufacturers, governments and insurance companies must recognize the importance in order for self-driving cars to become reality.

The Netherlands is not the only European country experimenting with self-driving cars. Similar tests are being conducted in Germany. And last year, Volvo started a pilot project that aims to have 100 self-driving cars on Swedish public roads around the city of Gothenburg by 2017.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags governmentregulationlegislationlegalconsumer electronicsDutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Loek Essers

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?