The first electric-powered and autonomous bus service - that is, without the need for a driver - will begin trials in Malaga this week.
For a month, starting from Saturday 20 February, passengers will be able to hop on the service that will serve cruise passengers who arrive at the port so that they can access the city centre (although at the moment there are no tourists and there is no return forecast).
However, members of the public who want to try out the trial service that will operate Tuesdays to Saturdays, from 10am to 2pm, will be able to register online on the EMT website or at a marquee on the Paseo del Parque.
Despite not being necessary, the vehicle will always have a driver at the controls, since it is still a legal requirement and, on occasions, the driver will have to take control since full autonomy has not yet been achieved.
Present at the unveiling of the vehicle this Wednesday morning (17 February) were the city’s mayor, Francisco de la Torre; the president of the Port Authority, Carlos Rubio; the general director of the bus company Grupo Avanza, Valentín Alonso; and the director of bus manufacturer Irizar, Íñigo Azcona.
This project has been four years in the making although the plans were interrupted by the Covid crisis.
The mayor boasts, "Malaga is the first city in Europe where an autonomous 12-metre bus will operate, with the help of smart traffic lights with which the City Council has collaborated."
Carlos Rubio, said that it is an exciting project that will be accelerated by the change in trends brought about by Covid in terms of sustainability and smart mobility. "The port area is ideal for this type of initiative."
Valentín Alonso added that the Automost R&D project “is entering its final phase with this live test in the streets of Malaga". He said that it is the first time automation has been applied to a standard-size passenger bus with a capacity for 70 passengers. "We are talking about real public transport, which until now it had only been done with small vehicles for 12 people, and interacts in a real setting with other vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists."
"Nobody disputes that in the future there will be autonomous vehicles, the question is when and how it will affect our mobility."
For Íñigo Azcona, autonomous driving will be the future in cities, and will help improve mobility. "We want to appeal to all the people of Malaga to come and try it out and see that it is safe and that it is already a reality."