Autonomous driving pilot gets underway in Norway

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Finnish self-driving software company Sensible 4 is undertaking preparations for a new pilot program in Gjesdal, Norway. The company says preliminary work has included test drives in the harsh Norwegian winter and mapping of the proposed pilot route with autonomous Toyota vehicles. The pilot will form part of the field-testing phase of the EU-funded FABULOS (Future Automated Bus Urban Level Operation System) project.

The program is a direct continuation of a previous autonomous driving project in Helsinki, Finland, undertaken in spring 2020. The Gjesdal phase will introduce new Toyota Proace vehicles, a revised version of the company’s autonomous driving software, and updated features for demand-based public transportation. The planned route is 3.3km long and will be driven without passengers on board, as per regulations laid down by the Norwegian Road Authority.

The company notes that the environmental and topographical conditions differ between Finland and Norway, with the latest phase introducing steep hills, open roads and narrow suburban streets to the test program. Currently, the pilot location at Gjesdal, near the city of Stavanger, is covered in snow, however, these conditions are ideal for Sensible4’s tests as its software has been developed specifically to handle demanding winter conditions that would defeat most other ADAS.

“We are excited to start testing our software in a new kind of surroundings which we don’t have in Finland. We don’t see it causing our system any major issues and the Toyota vehicles perform well with steep hills and snowy roads,” remarked project manager Aleksi Tepponen.

Also under test will be the project remote control center (RCC), located in Ålgård, Gjesdal. The RCC’s role is to provide remote assistance and customer service to autonomous vehicles and their passengers. The facility will also be used to test fleet management operations, which will be vital for the widespread roll-out of autonomous services.

The pilot is being conducted in collaboration with Spanish startup Shotl, which is developing an autonomous, on-demand shuttle service, also under the FABULOS umbrella.

“We’re happy to begin our first autonomous driving pilots abroad. Autonomous driving on open roads is an essential part of testing our software and collecting valuable data for future development,” concluded Harri Santamala, CEO of Sensible 4.

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he oversees Automotive Powertrain Technology and Professional Motorsport World magazines as editor.

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