Autonomous driving technology developers Sensible 4 and Mobility Forus, alongside public transport provider Boreal, Nordland County Municipality and Bodø Municipality, are collaborating to offer a long-term autonomous driving service north of the Arctic Circle in Norway. The project will support Bodø residents by providing a public transportation link to the local hospital. The challenging seasonal weather will create a stern test for Sensible 4’s all-weather autonomous driving software.
“Bodø is officially operating the northernmost autonomous shuttle bus route in the world. Such a project brings with it tremendous challenges, not least because of the weather. Bodø is known for experiencing four seasons in one day; it’s really exciting to see how the technology behind the autonomous shuttles will work in such a challenging climate. If the autonomous shuttles can operate in Bodø, they will work anywhere in the world,” commented Rune Eiterjord, project manager for Smarter Transport Bodø.
The pilot involves two electric Toyota Proace vehicles equipped with Sensible 4’s autonomous driving software, driving a 3.6km route from the local harbor to the hospital. Operating on public roads, the autonomous vehicles will travel at speeds of up to 30km/h along a route with eight bus stops. The vehicles will operate autonomously, although, in keeping with Norwegian law, there will be a safety driver on board to take over operations if necessary.
Harri Santamala, the CEO of Sensible 4, added, “This project goes right to our core at Sensible 4. Operating in Bodø provides us with the opportunity to demonstrate how our technology performs in seriously bad weather that is often highly unpredictable. Moreover, we’re delighted to be able to provide a key service that creates an important public transport link for the local community in Bodø, where driver shortage remains a key challenge that the city is trying to overcome through its adoption of autonomous mobility technology.”
The project will initially run from June to the new year to catch the worst of the Nordic winter season.