In a first for Belgium, an autonomous vehicle is being used on a public road to take visitors to a tourist site, the Caves of Han, in the south of the country. The shuttle is an experiment being undertaken by the Belgian road safety institute VIAS in cooperation with the Belgian government.
Belgian law has recently been modified to make this type of pilot possible. Before May 2018, it was not possible to run pilots with vehicles without someone on board to intervene. Additionally, a Code of Practice for the operation of such vehicles has been established.
The pilot at the Caves of Han will run for two weeks on a route of 1.5 kilometres in length, of which 500 metres is on a public road. VIAS is running the test to study road safety, public acceptance and people's trust in autonomous vehicles.
The initiation if this pilot project has opened the way for future pilots, as, in order for it to run, various legal issues had to be solved, including those relating to vehicle registration and insurance.
VIAS expects some challenges in the case of extreme weather conditions, such as heavy rain, fog and snow, which might hinder the vehicles’s sensors.
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