A new autonomous electric bus began operating in the Spanish city of Malaga on 20 February 2021. This trial represents the first time that a European city has tested autonomous driving technology in a bus that is circulating in real traffic.
The new autonomous bus is being implemented as part of the AutoMOST project, a research and innovation project focused on autonomous mobility that is funded by the Spanish government. The project is being undertaken by the city of Malaga in partnership with the Avanza Group and Empresa Malagueña de Transportes (EMT), which operates buses in Malaga.
The bus will operate on a trial basis until 13 March 2021. During this time passengers can ride the bus free of charge and tickets can be reserved online in advance from EMT’s website. To begin with the bus will operate on Malaga’s Line 90, which serves an 8 km loop between the Levante dock and the city centre, which it will run on six times a day. However, there are plans for autonomous buses in the future to serve cruise ship passengers arriving in Malaga, who wish to visit the historic centre of the city.
The 12-metre-long bus has capacity for 70 passengers and is fully electric. The bus is equipped with sensors and uses artificial intelligence to improve its operation based upon data collected along its route. While it is fully autonomous, a driver will be present as a safety precaution as well as ensuring compliance with Spanish law which requires a driver to be on-board.
To facilitate this technology, Malaga City Council has invested €180,000 in smart traffic lights which communicate with the bus. While the current trial will last approximately 3 weeks, the infrastructure will remain in place for the future implementation of autonomous vehicles.
The Mayor of Malaga, Francisco de la Torre, was amongst the first to ride the bus along with the President of the Port of Malaga Authority, Carlos Rubio, and the CEO of the Avanza Group, Valentin Alonso. The Mayor stated that the launch of the project sees Malaga as “an urban laboratory open to technologies”, which benefit its citizens. Meanwhile, the CEO of the Avanza Group emphasised the significance of the trial in the broader development of autonomous technologies, which in his opinion will play a key role in future mobility.
Original article published on 19 February 2021, available at: Autonomous bus trial to take place in Malaga - Intelligent Transport
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