27.06.2022, Norway Mobility Forus, Boreal, Sensible 4, Nordland County Municipality and Bodø Municipality collaborates to carry out the world’s first long-term autonomous driving service North of the Arctic Circle in Norway. The project will support Bodø’s residents by providing a crucial public transport link to the local hospital. Challenging seasonal weather provides the ultimate test for Sensible 4’s all-weather autonomous driving software.
Mobility Forus, Boreal, Nordland County Municipality, Bodø Municipality and Sensible 4 are collaborating to carry out the world’s first long-term autonomous driving service North of the Arctic Circle in the city of Bodø, Norway. Bodø’s subpolar climate creates challenging weather that changes dramatically throughout the year. The annual mix of rain, wind, snow, daylight hours, and varying temperatures provide the ultimate test for Sensible 4’s all-weather software.
“We are witnessing a historic day: 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”, says Project manager Rune Eiterjord in Smarter Transport Bodø.
Harri Santamala, CEO of autonomous driving technology company Sensible 4, continues: “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 their adoption of autonomous mobility technology.”
Public Transport Service for City of Innovation
The project continues to strengthen Bodø’s reputation as a city of innovation, with multiple smart projects held within the city, as it pursues its vision to create a smart and attractive mobility system that benefits the environment and stimulates local innovation.
“This project is an important step forward for autonomous public transport”, says Linn Terese Lohne Marken, CEO of Mobility Forus, a leading operator of autonomous solutions. “We are providing inhabitants with a sought after public transport service through advanced technology, as well as working closely with the authorities to standardise legislation and in doing so preparing Norway for the mobility solutions that are coming”, she adds.
The pilot will see two electric Toyota Proace vehicles, equipped with Sensible 4’s autonomous driving software, operate along a 3,6-kilometre route from the local harbour 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, but in keeping with Norwegian law, there will be a safety driver on board to take over operations if necessary.
“The Smarter Transport Bodø project may well be talked about because of the advanced technology we’re deploying around the city. However, this service is about putting the local residents first, by providing a crucial transport link to the local hospital”, states Eiterjord. He concludes: ”We see that the potential for autonomous vehicles to not only move people but also move goods and freight for longer distances, providing a key service for the business community. Although this is forward-looking, we believe that there will be exponential growth in the autonomous mobility technology and the vehicles that are currently being developed. The mobility solutions of the future are closer than you would think. This is just the start of a new smart city and more sustainable mobility north of the Arctic Circle.”
The initial duration of the autonomous public transport service is from June to the New Year to really catch the worst of the Nordic winter season.
Sensible 4 Oy is a Finnish self-driving technology company that has solved a major obstacle in autonomous driving, varying weather. The company develops SAE Level 4 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.
The founders of Sensible 4 have been developing autonomous vehicles since the ‘80s. 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.
Mobility Forus makes transportation smarter, more accessible and more sustainable through autonomous transport solutions. The company was first to operate autonomous shuttles on Norwegian roads in 2018. Working closely with authorities, companies and the public sector, Mobility Forus drives the way forward for autonomous operations based on people’s needs for practical services. Mobility Forus is owned 50/50 by PTO Boreal and Seabrokers Group.
The Smarter Transport Bodø Project shall reduce climate emissions by changing travel habits. We shall offer a seamless travel experience and give the public access to information and services that contribute to more efficient transport solutions. By offering open data, we shall also lay the foundation for local and regional innovation.
Our vision is to «create a smart and attractive mobility system that benefits the environment and stimulates local innovation». The project is a cooperation between Nordland County, Bodø Municipality, Avinor and Telenor. And runs between 2017 and 2023.
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