A small convoy of six self-driving trucks arrived in the Port of Rotterdam this week after an experiment organisers say will “revolutionise future road transport on Europe’s busy highways”. Some of the trucks in this convoy came from as far as Sweden and Southern Germany, and some of you may have even passed them without knowing it.
This ‘truck platooning’ involves two or three trucks that autonomously drive in a convoy, connected by wireless with the leading truck determining route and speed. It it is said to ensure cleaner and more efficient transport. Dutch Minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen also explains that self-driving vehicles contribute to road safety because most accidents are caused by human failure.
The trucks drive at a constant speed, maintain the same distance between them by braking at the same time, while standardisation will allow trucks from different companies to ‘talk to each other’.
The Netherlands currently holds the EU presidency and plans to hold an informal summit in a few weeks to discuss changes to regulations needed to “make self-driving transport a reality.”
Inspired by the Volkswagen emissions scandal, ‘sjoemelsoftware’ (‘cheat software’) was crowned Dutch word of the year 2015 today, with 48% of the votes. The definition is ‘software to positively influence the test results of a device, like software used in cars to make carbon dioxide emissions appear more favourable’. Since compound words work well in Dutch, the word ‘sjoemel’ can be coupled with a whole bunch of other words to imply something has been tampered with to defeat a device, a bit like a copper penny in the electricity meter.
Dutch kids have been creative this year, coming up with ‘Tinderellasyndroom’ (‘Tinderella syndrome’), with 34% of the votes for youth word of the year. The word means ‘young people who cannot flirt in real life and depend on mobile apps like Tinder’. What’s odd is that ‘Tinderella’ in English already was a woman found on Tinder presumably by a man, while the Cinderella complex defines an unconscious desire for women to be taken care of by others, usually men. ‘Tinderellasyndroom’ would appear to imply that boys can’t flirt, if we assume that boys usually initiate flirting online in the heterosexual sphere. I would read this new word as mainly boys looking for passive, willing women on Tinder-like apps instead of in real life.
This summer Dutch company Oxboard claimed that its self-balancing device, the Oxboard, wasn’t going to be affected by all the speed and permit issues that the Segway had to endure. In fact, it’s worse: the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment has kaboshed Oxboard’s plans to be used as a form of transportation, saying ‘it’s just a toy’.
The Oxboard is also not allowed on the sidewalk, not that most Dutch cities have wide enough sidewalks, and can only be used on people’s own property, which is impractical. To be able to be recognised as a ‘special scooter’, the Oxboard needs ‘a proper steering system and braking system’, and according to the Ministry it has neither. Then again, Dutch law isn’t completely clear about what constitutes steering and braking, as the words used are ‘properly functioning steering system or operating system’ and ‘properly functioning braking system’, both of which the Oxboard has.
Being able to steer the Oxboard with your feet should count for something, however, if you search for Oxboard videos on the Internet you’ll get a lot of kids playing around with one as it if were a toy. To be continued.
According to insurance data gathered by newspaper Het Parool, some 95% of all Vespa scooters are stolen off the streets of Amsterdam within five years. Throughout the rest of the country only about 4% of Vespas are stolen in the same period of time.
I once had that Roman Holiday vibe and seriously considered buying a Vespa. British comedian Eddie Izzard made owning a Vespa (video excerpt) even more appealing to me during one hot Dutch summer and after a memorable trip to southern Italy.
The NLTimes and other sources claim that “Piaggio brand scooters are also a hot target, with 12% of them being stolen within five years”, but then Vespa scooters are made by Piaggio, so that sounds off. Het Parool does explain that Vespas and Piaggios (not Piaggo dear Parool) are registered separately by Stichting Aanpak Voertuigcriminaliteit (SVAC) who handles stolen vehicles.
The Eindhoven University of Technology has taken the win in the Cruiser class at the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia on 18 October 2015 for its solar-powered four-person car, the Stella Lux. It’s the second time in a row that the team from Eindhoven has won in a category that’s only existed for two editions, meaning the Dutch team is still undefeated. Here’s a quick video in English of the Dutch taking the win.
Besides speed, other things such as being environmentally friendly and having comfortable seats also count, which explains the Cruiser class win for the Stella Lux. It consistently had two people driving in the car, which the others did not. Oh, and the car has cup holders.
A Namibian photographer in Amsterdam, Max Siedentopf, has been going around the West part of town pimping up cars and taking pictures of them. For his project Slapdash Supercars, he picks ordinary cars and makes them look suped-up using cardboard he cuts up in advance and masking tape.
Siedentopf has not yet been caught in the act and doubts anyone would have a problem with his artistic motives of showing people what their car could look like or say about their owner. It would seem that Siedentopf imagines these owners are twentysomething males like himself who may enjoy ‘Fast & Furious’ movies.
The 24 oranges headquarters is in the West, so if ever we see one of these cars, we’ll snap it for you.
In a race inspired by French author Jules Verne’s book ‘Around the World in 80 days’, students of the Eindhoven University of Technology are getting ready to go around the world in 80 days on an electric motorbike. On October 1st, the students will unveil their new design featuring a battery that can last twice as long as existing electric motorbike batteries.
The entire point of the trip is to prove that sustainability is an option for the future. Find out more about the the 80 day race here. As explained by team member Texas van Leeuwenstein, electric mobility sometimes has a dull image and they really want to kick that out.
Here’s an interview with Van Leeuwenstein, explaining the work on the prototype leading up to the race:
On 9 October a 1974 Porsche 911 Targa will be up for grabs to the highest bidder at Bonhams’ Zoute sale in Belgium (and not the Netherlands, as the source claims). The classic car used to belong to the Algemene Verkeersdienst (AVD – traffic cops) and was one of the few European states to use the Porsche for motorway patrol. They also had their own uniforms, white instead of the usual blue and orange helmets (see short photo session video).
According to Autoweek, before the Targa model was available, the AVD used Porsche 356 cabrios, but the 911 Targas remained in use through 1993 when the unit switched to Volvos. The AVD preferred the Targa model to the 911 coupe as it allowed for a greater range of visibility and officer passengers could stand in the car to give traffic directions in emergencies or while moving slowly.
This car was restored with as many original parts as possible and is known as ‘Alex 12:85’. It is expected to fetch between €98,000 and $143,000.
Traffic lights generally exist to regulate car traffic, so it doesn’t always makes sense when cyclists have to obey them too.
As part of the campaign Utrecht Fietst (Utrecht Cycles) the city asked its citizens which traffic lights were redundant, Verkeersnet reports. Motorists, cyclists and pedestrians rose to the occasion and sent in a whopping 4,760 reports between February and April. The city then presented responses for each junction on an interactive map (click the “i” icon hovering over each traffic light).
In June the city started to experiment with disabling the traffic lights of seven junctions with a further three junctions scheduled for an experiment later in 2015 in which traffic lights will be shut down during quiet times. These experiments will last six months before evaluation. Cyclists will get an additional free right on red at four junctions.