Malta is about to take a step into the unknown, with plans to test out driverless buses on the roads as early as next year.
Malta Public Transport, Transport Malta, and the University of Malta today announced their plan for driverless buses, which they said is the culmination of two and a half years of research.
The plan is to launch a tender in the coming months, acquire EU funding, and start testing the vehicles on Malta’s roads sometime next year.
They will initially be tested on four routes – the road connecting Mater Dei and the UoM, the road around the Ta Qali family park, Republic Street, and the stretch between Smart City and Esplora.
People will get a chance to test the vehicles and book their rides from an app, while human operators will initially remain on board the bus just in case something goes wrong.
Transport Minister Ian Borg hailed the plan as one which will see public transport become more effective and safe, allaying fears by arguing that 90% of road accidents are the result of human error.
“I have no doubt that this will be big news today, but in the coming years autonomous buses will become normal just like the internet and smartphones,” he said.