Finnish self-driving company Sensible 4 has announced that its self-driving mini-bus pilot in the small farming village of Gjesdal in Norway has opened for passengers.
Sensible 4’s FABULOS (Future Automated Bus Urban Level Operation System) self-driving pilot is designed as a research and development project to establish and deliver a proof-of-concept on automated last-mile public transport, integrating into the existing transport system of urban areas, and based on the use of self-driving mini-busses.
Backed by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, FABULOS is the second autonomous vehicle pilot Sensible 4 is running in Norway this year.
The FABULOS project involves three autonomous Toyota Proace mini-busses running between dedicated bus stops in the small village of Gjesdal, offering small groups of villagers free-of-charge rides until March.
“The opening of the pilot is a major milestone in the FABULOS project and it’s yet another example of our autonomous driving software’s performance in harsh weather conditions,” said Harri Santamala, CEO of Sensible 4.
FABULOS uses factory-built Toyota Proace vehicles that have been retrofitted with autonomous driving technology.
By conducting pilot operations in Norway, Sensible 4 is contending with the country’s steep hills, open roads, and narrow suburban streets, as well as snow-covered surroundings and potentially harsh weather conditions.
It is this last that is particularly being tested, as Sensible 4’s autonomous driving software is designed to be driven in all weather conditions, including snowfall.
“We are excited to start testing our software in a new kind of surroundings which we don’t have in Finland,” said Aleksi Tepponen, Sensible 4 Project Manager , speaking in January.
“We don’t see it causing our system any major issues. The Toyota vehicles perform well with steep hills and snowy roads.”
The FABULOS pilot is also testing small Renault Twizy along the 3.3-kilometre long route.