Today marks an unusual step into the future for public transit as Malaga, Spain becomes the first to put a self-driving full-size bus into regular passenger operation.
The electric bus, a full-size 12-meter bus, is being tried as part of a larger research and development project. It will operate on the city's bus Line 9. The 12-meter bus is a world standard, and the results of the three-week initial test will help determine how well the self-driving bus can adapt to real-world passengers and traffic. Previous tests in various cities have involved car-sized mini-buses.
The system relies on on-board software that senses its surroundings, and which also communicates with a newly-installed 'smart traffic light' system the city installed, at a cost of €180,000. After the experiment concludes, at least for now, the lights will remain in place, allowing the city to be a trial site for other self-driving systems.
It's not the first time for Malaga as a transit pioneer; the city's mayor pointed out that "we were also the first cit y to implement contactless cards on buses."