The Netherlands: Ready as it can be for Self-Driving Cars

The Netherlands is the best-suited country to trial self-driving cars, 25 countries were evaluated on various criteria and the Netherlands came out as the undisputed best. This would be a great achievement for the Netherlands and generate countless trade possibilities. 

The Netherlands: “welcomes and park your self-driving cars where ever you wish”

A recent survey by KPMG concluded that the implementation of self-driving cars should take their trial stages right here in the Netherlands. The Netherlands was found to be a good testing ground for self-driving cars.

KPMG investigated 25 countries on the basis of these factors: technology, consumer acceptance, legislation, and infrastructure. Singapore is second to the Netherlands. Newcomer Norway is in the top three (Pesky Norway, or as I like to think of it, the Netherlands’ hipster cousin that drifted apart).

Here’s an older article from 2015 where we already talked about how the Netherlands leads the way when it comes to smart mobility.

Netherlands best suited for self-driving cars, but what about cyclists?

Now, if you’re skeptical and can’t really see it happening you aren’t the only one. Bert van Wee, Professor of Transport Policy at TU Delft has noted: “there is a considerable difference between the American and Dutch roads in the city”. Pointing out that “in the US, the roads are straight and wide, which means there can be a lot of space between self-driving vehicles and cyclists, and in many Dutch cities they will be right next to each other”.

Having witnessed Amsterdam traffic I was also a bit confused on this one. Once you’ve been on a tram that slammed on the breaks and almost got run into by an ambulance that had to take back roads to avoid city traffic, not much redeems its image as a cohesive urban landscape, least of all predictable.

self-driving car
Uber throws its hat in the “self-driving car” ring

“I think it will be difficult to develop reliable self-driving cars for urban areas,” says Willem Vlakveld, a researcher for Road Safety Research (SWOV). He also notes that little is known about how cyclists will react to self-driving cars.

If you think the Netherlands isn’t ready, the data would correct you. Don’t believe us? Download the PDF and have a read. There’s an entire “readiness index”…*

*Man, I wish my morning alarm came with a “readiness index”.

How are other countries prepared for self-driving cars?

Countries that ranked worse than the Netherlands still have a chance to ready themselves for the incoming auto-tech. “Many of the overall scores are very close and there are numerous opportunities, identified in this report, for countries to make significant progress. Those that did would rise quickly in the rankings”, Richard Threlfall Global Head of Infrastructure KPMG International.

A Tesla Model S self-parking in Amsterdam (Source: Wikipedia/CC/David van der Mark_

The future of self-driving cars is precarious because if people don’t feel safe in one then the industry will flatline off of public perception alone. If self-driving cars aren’t your thing that’s fair enough, gotta love cruising around. Van Arem from TU Delft believes that a series of accidents, including a fatality from a partially autonomous Uber in March last year, killed the hype building up over self-driving cars.

So the idea that in ten or twenty – or even later – self-driving cars can transport you from door to door seems far from realistic. “That scenario is not going to happen soon”, says Professor Bert van Wee. “I am now 61, I do not think I’m going to experience that”.

What are your thoughts on self-driving cars? Can’t wait? Maybe you think every car requires conscious control and things should get less automated entirely. 

I wonder what the future of companies like Uber will be if self-driving technology comes to the Netherlands. For further discussion, join our facebook page

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Jesse Rintoul
I'm a 24-year-old writer living in Amsterdam, pursuing videography and media. The coffee I am drinking in my profile picture is a black coffee.


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