16 Apr 20

Autonomous vehicle pilot starts on public roads in Helsinki

A 50-day live trial of three autonomous vehicles has started this week in the business district of Helsinki, Finland.

Equipped with Sensible 4’s autonomous driving software and technology, the three driverless electric vehicles will follow a predefined circular route, but have to contend with busy, complex traffic situations, including pedestrians, cyclists and trams.

The vehicles are a Dongfeng Motor minibus (above), a Renault Twizy (below) and a MUJI shuttle bus (top). Sensible 4 says its software can convert any vehicle into a self-driving vehicle.

When the trial was designed, the shuttlebus would have been open to passengers, who could have hailed it via a smartphone app, but COVID-19 lockdown precautions mean all of the vehicles will be closed to passengers.

Jari Saarinen, Chief Technology Officer, Sensible 4, said: “Self-driving fleet operations on public roads in urban areas are really demanding for any autonomous technology. We will learn a lot during these 50 days of the Helsinki-pilot.”

The technology is aiming for Level 4 autonomy along a pre-set route, which means that a human operator may be required to guide the vehicle in exceptional circumstances, such as navigating around a wrongly parked car that is blocking the route.

Sensible 4 added that its technology is able to operate in weather conditions that would bring other autonomous vehicles to a standstill. Snow, for example, ‘blinds’ sensors, but Sensible 4’s software can overcome this challenge.

The trial is part of the EU funded FABULOS-project, which aims to research the feasibilities of autonomous driving in a public transportation network.

Renske Martijnse-Hartikka FABULOS Project Coordinator from Forum Virium Helsinki, said: “We believe autonomous shared mobility can make a big contribution to a more efficient and sustainable urban mobility system. It is exciting to see if the technology is ready for wide take-up.”

Photos: Sensible 4

Authored by: Jonathan Manning