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TECHNOLOGY

Malaga to trial Spain’s first self-driving bus

Spain’s first self-driving bus will begin to take public passengers from this Saturday, February 20th.

Malaga to trial Spain's first self-driving bus
Image: Largeroliker / WikiCommons

Created as part of the AutoMOST R + D + I project in participation with Avanza bus company and Malaga City Council, the 12-metre electric bus features autonomous driving technology and will be a revolutionary addition to the transport system.

The mayor of Malaga, Francisco de la Torre, companied by the president of the Port of Malaga Authority, Carlos Rubio, and the general director of Avanza, Valentin Alonso were the first to ride in this driverless bus.

Mayor de la Torre said “Malaga has been a pioneer in creating ways to improve life in the city”. “We were also the first city to implement contactless cards on buses,” he added.

The self-driving bus is the first of its kind to circulate in real traffic and will be in operation on line 90 from the Maritime Station in the port area to the Paseo del Parque in the front of the City Hall.

Malaga will become the first European city to implement this new autonomous driving technology in a bus, which is also environmentally friendly, run fully on electricity and which produces zero emissions.

The city council said in a statement that this move reinforces Malaga’s commitment to sustainable mobility and the use of new technologies adapted to transport.

In previous projects, self-driving tests have only been carried out using smaller vehicles, not the standard 12-metre buses that are in daily circulation around the city.

12-metre buses are the world standard, so in theory it will be possible to implement this same type of technology in other models of the same size around the world.

In order for the technology to work, Malaga City Council has invested 180,000 euros in smart traffic lights, which communicate with the bus telling it when to go and stop.

Initially the self-driving bus will run for three weeks, but the traffic lights will remain in place, allowing for the implementation of other self-driving systems in the future, such as driverless cars.

For the next three weeks, residents can ride the self-driving bus completely free of charge. It will operate from Saturday February 20th to March 13th, from Tuesdays to Saturdays 9:30am to 2:30pm.

You can book a ticket on the bus in advance by visiting www.emtmalaga.es

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TECHNOLOGY

Spain to invest €600 million in artificial intelligence in plan to transform economy

Spain is to invest €600 million ($725 million) in developing artificial intelligence over the next two years as part of plans to transform its national economy, the prime minister said Wednesday.

Spain to invest €600 million in artificial intelligence in plan to transform economy
File photo of robot unveiled at Barcelona's Mobile World Congress in 2017. Photo: AFP

The programme would run from 2021 to 2023, starting with an initial injection of 330 million euros, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said.   

Developing artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the main objectives of Spain's digital transformation programme which was announced in July and is part of a plan to transform the Spanish economy.

Sanchez said the aim of the government's AI strategy was to “align Spain with the leading countries involved in the study and use of reliable artificial intelligence for economic and social development as a tool for economic modernisation”.

The idea was “to generate an environment of trust with respect to the development of an artificial intelligence that would be inclusive and sustainable and have the public at its heart”, a government statement added.   

The public investment will be further boosted by a contribution from Spain's Next Tech fund to encourage entrepreneurship in digital technology.    

The public-private initiative will aim to mobilise private funding worth 3.3 billion euros that will be ploughed into AI and the digital economy, Sanchez added.

In early October, Spain unveiled its EU-funded recovery plan aimed at creating over 800,000 new jobs and yanking the country out of its worst economic slump in decades.

The plan will be funded by the 140 billion euros in grants and loans Spain will receive from a massive EU rescue fund, making it one of its biggest beneficiaries along with Italy.

READ MORE:  Spain unveils 'Recovery and Resilience' rescue plan to create 800,000 new jobs

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