Together with the municipalities of Noordwijk and Katwijk, ESA ESTEC, transporter Arriva, Future Mobility Network and Rebel Automated Shuttles, the province of Zuid-Holland wants to start a pilot in 2019 with self-driving minibuses (shuttles). The buses will run both on the premises of ESA ESTEC in Noordwijk (first phase) and on the public road between bus stop Schorpioen and ESA ESTEC (second phase). The pilot will last for about two years. The site of ESA ESTEC is favorable to gain learning experiences with a new technology, because it is possible to drive on an enclosed terrain and the roads outside the site are relatively clear. In addition, it concerns an environment where new technology is easily embraced.

The pilot will use a ‘learn by doing’ approach, whereby the minibuses will first be tested at the Research lab Automated Driving in Delft. The result of the pilot is not an everyday bus transport system. It is an experimental transport system aimed at gaining experience and answering learning questions. Do self-driving shuttles make the use of public transport more attractive? Does it offer travelers an easy and fast service in an innovative way? Can we gain experience with self-propelled shuttles (in terms of technology, operation and exploitation)? What is the potential for expansion? The learning experiences from the pilot will be made publicly available.

Yesterday, a first step was taken towards actually realizing the project: signing a letter of intent by the parties involved. With this, the parties are putting the project into practice.

By means of the pilot, the province wants to increase the accessibility of ESA ESTEC, to test whether this type of technology lends itself to deploying at other locations in the province and to develop knowledge in the field of self-driving vehicles and to make public transport more efficient and attractive. Representative Floor Vermeulen: “In the future self-driving shuttles can offer great added value to the travelers. They can offer an affordable extra service, for example for transport to and from the stop. “In this test, specific attention will be paid to the transport of people with a motor or visual impairment by, among other things, arranging the vehicles.