A test team from the Finnish self-driving technology company Sensible 4 is traveling to the Finnish arctic, Muonio to perform a two-week-long autonomous winter driving test in dark and snowy conditions. The goal of the test is to collect winter data and test how new features in the software perform in harsh winter conditions.
The software that the test vehicle runs on is the base for the first commercial release of Sensible 4’s autonomous driving kit solution, Dawn, which will be released in 2022. The upcoming winter tests play a vital role in enabling the launch of Dawn. Dawn is a true level 4 self-driving software product enabling self-driving without a safety driver, built for self-driving last-mile shuttle buses. It will be the first commercial software in the world to handle driving in all weather conditions and environments.
“Bad weather is one of the biggest challenges for autonomous vehicles. Our strength is to cope with varying weather conditions and if the software works in difficult Finnish conditions, it will work also in sunny California”, says Tommi Rimpiläinen, the chief operating officer of Sensible 4.
Autonomous driving is based on software, including algorithms computing the sensor fusion and driving decisions. To enable real autonomous driving in all weather conditions, real data needs to be collected, including the freezing winter of Finnish Lapland. This data is crucial for further developing Sensible 4 Autonomous Driving Kit’s algorithms. For the best possible data regarding the weather, Sensible 4 uses Vaisala weather instruments to measure the conditions of Muonio winter roads.
The last time Sensible 4 visited Muonio for winter tests was in 2018. Then the tests were done with the small Renault Twizy named “Juto”, Sensible 4’s first test vehicle. After that Sensible 4 has automated many vehicles from different manufacturers. In Lapland, there drives also a new automated vehicle – more details about that will be released next week.
Managing harsh weather conditions is a requirement to make autonomous vehicles mainstream
For self-driving cars to become mainstream, they have to work everywhere – in all weather conditions. Solving the weather problem solves the greatest problem of autonomous driving. The magic ingredient enabling all-weather performance is Sensible 4’s in-house methods and algorithms for effective 3D LiDAR data processing, intelligent sensor fusion system, artificial intelligence, and software controlling the vehicle platform.
“Lapland has the best possible winter testing conditions for autonomous vehicles. It provides low temperatures, snow, and darkness, which is good for testing driving and sensor technology even in extreme conditions”, Rimpiläinen explains. The tests will be conducted during week 50 and 51.
Sensible 4 Ltd is a Finnish self-driving tech company that has solved a major obstacle in autonomous driving, varying weather. The company develops full-stack autonomous driving software that turns any vehicle into self-driving. The unique technology combines software and information from several different sensors, enabling vehicles to operate in all weather conditions, including snowfall and fog. In 2022 it will launch the world’s first commercial all-weather software product, Dawn, for SAE level 4 driverless last-mile shuttles.
The founders of Sensible 4 have been developing autonomous vehicles since the ‘80s. In February 2020, Sensible 4 secured 7 million dollars in series A funding round from Japanese investors and the technology has won multiple awards, including 1st place in the Dubai World Challenge for Self-Driving Transport 2019 competition and the Finnish Engineering Prize in 2020.