From the middle of May, two tests will start regarding autonomous transport in Eemshaven and Loppersum. It concerns minibuses without drivers on a closed-off piece of road.
The tests follow from a declaration of intent jointly signed by the three northern provinces and the municipality of Ooststellingwerf in September 2016. Its purpose was to turn the Northern Netherlands into the testing area for self-driving, autonomous transport. Meanwhile, several parties have expressed their wish to contribute to it. On 21 April, the parties concerned will symbolically place their signatures to confirm their collaboration.
As of May, several tests will be conducted with self-driving vehicles from different suppliers in a closed-off part of Eemshaven. The tests include, for example, driving under varying weather conditions. By means of a simulator, new tests are prepared, and different traffic situations can be simulated. It is the first time that several suppliers of vehicles will conduct tests in the same test area in this way. The first vehicle to come to Eemshaven for tests will be supplied by EasyMile.
During the test period, the vehicle supplied by EasyMile will also be taken to the test environment of 5Groningen at Zernike, known as the ‘living lab’. Here, tests can be conducted in combination with 5G technology. Later this year, these tests will also be conducted in a practice environment. Loppersum is the first place in Europe where tests will be done in this way with a combination of self-driving vehicles and 5G technology. 5G technology can accelerate the development of autonomous transport considerably.
Last year, the provinces of Groningen, Fryslân and Drenthe and the municipality of Ooststellingwerf jointly signed a declaration of intent by which they put the Northern Netherlands on the map as the test region for autonomous transport. At that time, too, the first test was conducted in Appelscha. The three provinces and the municipality of Ooststellingwerf regard autonomous transport as a smart, safe and clean form of public transport that connects the rural population with their amenities. It increases social mobility and helps to improve the quality of life in the countryside.
Smart and Green
The province of Groningen is constantly looking for innovative and sustainable ways to make our mobility, infrastructure, and its maintenance smarter and greener. Autonomous transport is clean, because the vehicles are electrical. The provincial authorities also regard autonomous transport as a smart way to maintain the quality of life in shrinking rural regions.