World Spain: a driverless bus in the streets of Malaga, a first in Europe

23:05  25 february  2021
23:05  25 february  2021 Source:   leparisien.fr

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The project is presented as a first in Europe. A driverless bus began to circulate in the streets of Malaga, in southern Spain. Equipped with sensors and cameras, this 100% electric bus, which entered service on Saturday, links the port to the city center of this Andalusian city. An eight-kilometer loop that he does six times a day.

"The bus knows where it is at all times, what is around it," explained Rafael Durban Carmona, director of the southern division of the company Avanza, at the head of the public-private consortium responsible for the project. . In particular, it can “interact with traffic lights”, which are also equipped with sensors indicating when they turn red, he added.

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Equipped with artificial intelligence

The bus also has an artificial intelligence device allowing it to improve its "decisions" based on the data recorded along the route. The vehicle, developed by the Spanish company Irizar, looks like any classic city bus: it is twelve meters long and can carry 60 passengers.

Other autonomous vehicle pilot projects already exist in Europe, France or Estonia for example, but they do not concern classic-sized city buses traveling in streets open to other vehicles.

As Spanish legislation does not authorize the use of a driverless vehicle, a driver is seated in his usual place, but he does not touch the steering wheel or the pedals, except very exceptionally to slightly correct the trajectory, when approaching 'a roundabout for example. In the event of a problem, the driver can regain control at any time.

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“Everything is fairly normal, it even looks like the driver is driving… I feel good, safe, because otherwise I wouldn't be getting in, especially since I'm coming with my grandson”, testifies Marta, one of the passengers.

Autonomous buses tested in Singapore and China

This project received funding from the Spanish government and the collaboration of several universities. Outside of Europe, Singapore began testing commercial operation of autonomous buses in late January, while in China autonomous taxis are being tested in several cities. In the United States, Waymo (a subsidiary of Google) will test in San Francisco its driverless robot taxis, already in service in Arizona since 2017. An autonomous car Uber was involved in a fatal accident in March 2018 in United States. She hadn't recognized a pedestrian.

The obstacles are regulatory issues and especially acceptance by the general public, given the risks they may pose in terms of security and cybersecurity.

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