Between late buses and traffic jams, transport is a sore point for most Maltese commuters, but eCabs CEO Matthew Bezzina thinks that this shouldn’t hinder us from taking on a proactive approach in the autonomous vehicles industry.
The digital revolution of the 21st century has catapulted industries into the future, forcing them to innovate or fall behind. According to Bezzina, the same will happen with the mobility industry and Malta should be at the forefront.
“Government must adopt a proactive approach by preparing and legislating for new technologies and concepts that will hit our shores in the very near future,” Bezzina insisted.
The autonomous vehicles industry is at its early stages. With one of the highest road network densities and mix of old and new road infrastructure, Malta could become a model country for testing autonomous vehicles and in turn attract global players in tech industries.
Malta’s transport policies are based on the National Transport Strategy 2050 and the Transport Master Plan 2025. These documents generally suggest that the government should mitigate personal car usage and encourage multi-modality.
Bezzina commented that comprehensive regulation, without loopholes, is the fundamental game-changer for a multi-modal transport network. This should be paired with heavy passenger safety conditions, complete fiscal monitoring, and a level playing field to help encourage private investors.
The move to self-driving cars is not an overnight achievement and a lot of research would be needed to tackle the infrastructural, technological, as well as ethical challenges that come with such vehicles. In the same way that Malta was proactive in iGaming, Bezzina believes that legislators could be just as innovative with self-driving cars.