Launch of a new innovative research project on autonomous buses
Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects Ian Borg and Minister of Education Justyne Caruana have launched Transport Malta’s collaborative venture with University of Malta and Malta Public Transport on a new project of innovative research on autonomous buses. The initiative will provide different research possibilities on autonomous public transport vehicles in certain places in Malta.
At the launch, the Managing Director of Malta Public Transport, Konrad Pulè, the Chairman and Managing Director of Transport Malta, Joseph Bugeja, and the Rector of the University of Malta, Professor Alfred J. Vella.
The autonomous bus research project will be tested on the following four test routes that will be integrated into the current public transport network:
1. Between the University of Malta and Mater Dei Hospital
2. A circular trip to Valletta
3. The perimeter of the Ta ‘Qali family park
4. A route between Smart City and Esplora
Minister Ian Borg said that by introducing this new innovation to Malta, the public will be offered a new concept of transport. “This is another showcase of a progressive government whose vision is to keep our country up to date in terms of technology as it believes in its potential to provide more sustainable transportation. By adopting fully electric buses integrated with artificial intelligence, we will increase road safety because this technology eliminates the possibility that human error is responsible for more than 90% of road accidents. In addition, fully electric bus engines will free areas such as parks, campuses or hospitals from emissions, parking problems and noise pollution, ”the minister continued.
“The University of Malta has an important role to play as a partner of government, not only in terms of teaching, education and training, research and innovation, but also in terms of technology. We see our country’s university at the forefront to see and explore opportunities that are beneficial not only for its faculty and students, but also for the country in general, as evidenced by the launch of this project today. . As a government, there is a strong commitment to strengthening the university, a commitment that will benefit present and future generations, ”said Minister Justyne Caruana.
International studies on similar tests have shown a social acceptance rate of over 75% by passengers. The three-way collaboration will follow the autonomous bus project for different outcomes, including the technical capacity of the units, user experience and impact on travel patterns.
With more than 300 units currently in use around the world, self-driving buses provide a safe, inclusive, efficient and sustainable form of transportation in high traffic areas. The collaboration between Transport Malta, Malta Public Transport and the University of Malta will study the concept in practice with a view to its implementation in the future.
An Autonomous Bus Working Group has been set up and is currently exploring specific funding opportunities for the Autonomous Bus Project which are in line with the objectives of the available European programs.
“Our global public transport group is already running a similar program in Madrid, and preliminary research has already been carried out by our local team with different manufacturers to identify suitable test routes for the autonomous bus,” Konrad Pulè pointed out. , Director General Malta Public Transport. “The Malta project will assess technology and operations against specific local needs and conditions.”
Transport Malta Chairman and CEO Joseph Bugeja said: “It is a pleasure for the authority to partner with the University of Malta and Malta Public Transport on a project in line with the national strategy Transport 2050 which encourages investments in intelligent transport systems to achieve environmental and social objectives ”.
The rector of the university, Professor Alfred J. Vella, said the implications of this collaboration are considerable. With Malta’s size and high population density resulting in a lot of traffic and pollution, reaping the benefits of this revolutionary technology has been, for some time, a question of when, not if. “The university’s engagement with the ministries present and Transport Malta as well as Malta Public Transport is an example of how cooperation between all relevant stakeholders optimizes the conditions to achieve results faster and more efficiently for the benefit of our whole community. ”