Driverless Bus Hits Streets Of Malaga In Southern Spain

In the southern Spanish city of Malaga, a new unmanned electric bus has begun operation in Europe’s first announced project.

The bus, which began operation on Saturday, is equipped with sensors and cameras, connecting Malaga’s port with the city center in an 8 km (5 mile) loop that runs six times a day.

Rafael Durban Carmona, who heads the southern division of the Spanish transport company Avanza, which heads the public-private consortium behind the project, said:

He told AFP that it could “interact with the traffic light” and was also equipped with a sensor that alerted the bus when the traffic light turned red.

Buses use artificial intelligence to improve “decision-making” based on data recorded along the route.

The 12-meter (39-foot) vehicle, which looks like any other bus, can carry 60 passengers and was developed by the Spanish company Irizar.

Other unmanned pilot projects already exist in Europe, but none include a regular-sized city bus that runs on regular roads with other vehicles.

Electric vehicles drive autonomously, but Spanish law does not yet allow self-driving cars, so drivers must grab the steering wheel.

Spanish law does not currently allow you to drive a vehicle without a driver, so despite its advanced technology, it will be driven by the driver as needed.

“In automatic mode, it works completely autonomously,” explains driver Cristobal Maldonado.

The project was funded by the Spanish government and coordinated with several universities.

Singapore launched a self-driving bus trial last month. Passengers book through the app and buses travel to Singapore’s science park, a high-tech business hub, during off-peak hours.

China has also tested self-driving taxis in several cities.

Uber’s self-driving car attacked and killed a woman crossing a US road in 2018. This is believed to be the first death toll involving self-driving cars.

Lack of regulation and public safety concerns are two factors often cited by experts who hinder the development of self-driving cars.

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