Driverless Kitted Toyotas ‘Handled Artic Snow Storms’

An autonomous driving technology company is claiming its systems can cope with the worst that winter Artic conditions can through at it.

Sensible 4 says it has carried out a successful autonomous driving pilot in Tampere, Finland, despite the worst and most challenging winter conditions in years. The pilot, which started in January and lasted for two-and-a-half months had been focused on how autonomous vehicles work with public transportation networks and collect feedback from users.

Two self-driving Toyota Proace vehicles were used as feeder traffic for the tram trunk line in the city’s suburbs. The passenger feedback collected was mainly positive and focused on improving accessibility for people with disabilities.

The pilot supported the strategic goal of the of Tampere’s authorities to be a pioneer in smart city development. It also provided lessons and experience for other projects. The Smart City Test Area project aims to strengthen the competitiveness of companies and research institutes in the region offering companies opportunities to test new services in a real urban environment.

The vehicles were driven in extreme cold, as the temperature dropped from time to time below -20 °C. At other times temperature variation above and below zero degrees Celcius caused the road to be slippery. Heavy snowfalls covered the lane markings and the ploughing brought high piles of snow along the route.

Jussi Suomela, CBO of Sensible 4, said: “This pilot was valuable for understanding the customer and end-user needs better, including especially the accessibility aspects. The weather was exceptionally snowy but the software and vehicles performed well and we were able to collect important test data of the extreme conditions and experience of the challenging weather.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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