FABULOS PILOT FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions
Some of Sensible 4’s pilot projects are part of FABULOS project. It is studying public transport based on autonomous vehicles. The FABULOS project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program.
Gjesdal, Norway, 2021
Starting in January 2021 Sensible 4 vehicles have been driving in Ålgård, Gjesdal, near Stavanger in Norway.
What vehicles drive in Gjesdal?
We drive two autonomous Toyota Proace vehicles, and also are planning to start driving with a third vehicle, a small Renault Twizy based test vehicle. All vehicles are normal factory-built vehicles, retrofitted to be Level 4 autonomous.
How is a retrofitted Toyota Proace different from a regular Toyota Proace?
Above all, the vehicles we drive in Norway are Level 4 autonomous prototype vehicles for all weather conditions. They are retrofitted with a so-called drive-by-wire system, enabling a computer to drive and steer the vehicle. Also, various sensors are added to the vehicle enabling the Autonomous Drive computer and Sensible 4 software to drive the vehicle autonomously.
What’s new to the pilot, in addition to the spring 2020 pilot in Helsinki?
The conditions in which the vehicles are being driven are new and also more challenging. Especially the hill to nearby hill to Myrengveien is very steep, and winter conditions make it even more difficult to manage. The software we’re driving is new, enabling a smoother ride.
Is it possible to travel onboard the autonomous vehicle?
Unfortunately not. The driving permission by local road authorities (Statens Vegvesen) prevents this from us for now. Also, the COVID-19 situation needs to be considered. We hope we can open the pilot to small amounts of passengers in the future. Should this happen, we’ll inform you about that later.
How do you make sure the driving is safe if you’re testing a product that is not final yet?
The main safety feature is the human safety driver, also known as an operator on board the vehicle. The Proace vehicle has a normal steering wheel and braking system for the operator to take control if the autonomous driving software tries to do something potentially dangerous. Safety for everyone is our top priority. The software is always developed with a safety-first approach.
What’s meant with Mobility Forus as an “operator” in Gjesdal? How is it different from the Sensible 4 role?
Sensible 4 is a software company. We do the vehicle retrofit and develop the software for the vehicle to drive autonomously. Mobility Forus provides the professional safety drivers for our vehicles. Sensible 4 is a Finnish software company, Mobility Forus is from Norway, Stavanger.
How long does the pilot continue in Norway?
The exact ending date for the pilot is not known yet. The pilot will most likely continue at least until the end of February 2021.
In the spring 2020 FABULOS pilot was driven at Helsinki.
What vehicles drive in Helsinki?
We had three vehicles driving in Helsinki: GACHA, Retrofitted CM7, and small test vehicle Juto.
What’s this GACHA anyway?
GACHA is electric, shared driverless shuttle bus – the only one in the world that is capable of driving in all weather conditions. Unlike other autonomous vehicles, GACHA can operate in both snow and heavy rain. It was created in 2019 in partnership with MUJI from Japan, which was responsible for the design of the vehicle. Sensible 4 built it, and we also develop the software that it runs on.
What’s the difference between GACHA and the other vehicles?
The GACHA is built from the ground up to be an autonomous shuttle bus and it’s made by Sensible 4. Other vehicles are regular vehicles, but they’re retrofitted with Sensible 4 autonomous driving software and technology.
How does the bus know where it drives?
Our positioning technology is based on laser scanners, or LiDAR technologies if you will. These sensors provide a 3D model of the vehicle’s surroundings. Positioning is derived from this model, comparing it to pre-defined 3D-map at the vehicle computer. This positioning can be assisted with other sensor data such as RTK satellite positioning or radar data.
How fast does this thing go?
GACHA’s max speed is set for 40km/h for autonomous driving but can be increased to 80km/h when driving manually. The reason for the lower max speed when driving autonomously is safety. At this point, it is crucial for us to always put safety first. In the future when the technology develops the speed can be increased.
Does it stop if somebody jumps in front?
Yes, GACHA has obstacle detection and it will brake, but please don’t jump in front of any vehicle in road traffic!
Do you have a safety driver in the vehicle?
At this stage, we always have a safety driver in GACHA and our other vehicles when we are doing pilots. The idea is that the safety driver is to be removed from the vehicle in the future. For us, safety is priority number one, and we are dedicated to delivering a safe and smooth ride for our customers.
Is GACHA already Level 4?
Yes, GACHA is an SAE Level 4 autonomous vehicle prototype. This means the vehicle can drive autonomously on a pre-defined route in all conditions, including heavy rain or fog. And in case the vehicle encounters something it can not pass, it’s able to stop safely. In this case the remote operator will manually guide the vehicle forward.
Does GACHA use 5G technology?
New 5G technologies offer interesting opportunities for autonomous vehicles. Yet there are no 5G functionalities currently in GACHA. We have tested 5G with Nokia with a live video feed from a smart lamppost (Luxturrim 5G) to a tablet that was located inside the vehicle.