WEpods Come to GTC Europe

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.