A pilot project has begun in the Oslo region of Norway to test automated public transportation services in the bad Nordic weather
The project will use a Toyota Proace transportation van, equipped with autonomous driving software from Finnish self-driving technology firm Sensible 4. The Proace vehicle features up to six passengers and is equipped with a wheelchair ramp for public transportation use.
The self-driving van trials will explore ways to integrate autonomous vehicles into Ruter’s public transportation service and reduce the need for private car use in the country. The service will be called line 529 and will operate for a one-year period. During this time, the partners will test and ensure that the software works in all weather conditions in real-life scenarios.
According to the companies involved in the project, Nordic weather conditions of snow and heavy rain cause problems for self-driving vehicles in Norway. Holo, a mobility company, is using Sensible 4’s autonomous driving platform as part of the pilot because it uses algorithms for effective 3D lidar data processing, sensor fusion system, artificial intelligence and software controlling the vehicle platform.
“For self-driving vehicles to become mainstream, they have to work in everyday conditions, as in rain or snow,” said Harri Santamala, CEO of Sensible 4. “Driving in Norway is a great opportunity for us to test our software performance. If it works here, it works everywhere.”
Passengers in Oslo will be able to start using the new travel system in the first quarter of 2021 and the two vehicles are first going to map the area and then carry out 500 hours of test operation without passengers, which is required by the Norwegian road authorities. After that, the companies plan to test the system with passengers.