Malaga's automated electric bus, Source: Ayuntamiento de Malaga

The first regular-size autonomous bus is already running on Malaga’s streets

The first regular-size autonomous bus is already running on Malaga’s streets

The project participants described it as a first of its kind in Europe

Since February Malaga has had a new and valuable addition to its public transport fleet – an autonomous electric and regular-sized bus, the first such of its kind in Europe. While it is true that Copenhagen and Hamburg are running test trials with driverless buses, those are 8-seat minibuses and they operate in smaller perimeters.

The vehicle in Malaga is 12 metres long with a capacity of 60 seats and is servicing an 8-kilometre loop around the southern Spanish city. Although it is driven by artificial intelligence using a predetermined navigation system, we cannot technically call it a driverless bus, just yet.

The reason behind that is that current Spanish legislation does not allow vehicles to move without a human operator being present inside them. That is why, the bus still has a driver, but he is there only to take control if emergency circumstances would require such an action; outside of such eventualities he is not driving the vehicle.

The future of public transit is already here

The project itself consists of several partners who came together to test it out and make it a reality. It stems from the AutoMost pilot programme, which ran between November 2017 and October 2020 and was financed by the Spanish government through the Centre for Industrial Technological Development to the tune of 9 million euros.

The goal was to develop an intelligent driving and navigation system that would allow the automation of vehicles and the increase of sustainability and safety on the urban roads. More specifically, this concerned the implementation of shared control systems (Dual-Mode) that allow automated vehicles to operate more efficiently in a context of intelligent infrastructures.

Related to this news, the world’s first driverless bus service was launched also last month in Singapore.

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