All-Weather Autonomous Bus Hits Helsinki

An all-weather autonomous shuttle bus co-developed by an autonomous vehicle start-up and a lifestyle retailer has been launched in Helsinki.

The GACHA’s technology was developed by Finnish start-up Sensible 4 and its interior was designed by Japanese retailer MUJI. The bus was previously tested in “arctic Lapland conditions” but the Helsinki launch marked its first public test drive. It is planned to begin operating publicly in Espoo next month. Rollout across Helsinki, Vantaa, and Hämeenlinna is planned for next year. “Use on public roads” is planned for 2020 and integration into “the cities’ existing transportation systems” for 2021.

Sensible 4 says the GACHA features “superior positioning, navigation, and obstacle detection to allow year-round autonomous driving”. It says it is distinguished “from similar projects” by its “lack of a front or rear”.The bus claims “control over 4G LTE/5G”, a four-wheel drive electric powertrain, range of over 100km (62 miles), top speed of 40km per hour (25mph), and rapid wireless and non-wireless charging capabilities. It features cold-resistant LiDAR developed by RoboSense.

Sensible 4 CEO Harri Santamala said “completely autonomous” AV tech “is not here yet. Most self-driving cars can operate only in ideal weather conditions and well-marked roads. This is what Sensible 4 has managed to change”.


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