Finnish Start-up Picks the Ultimate Winter Challenge: Making Autonomous Cars Snow Ready

For the autonomous mobility revolution to take place in the northern hemisphere, cars need to be able to navigate in harsh weather like heavy rain and snow. A Finnish start-up has developed a world-leading vehicle automation system serving just that need.

As far away as winter may seem right now, some of us are already grappling with the challenges of winter driving – especially in the case of autonomous cars. As the only country in Europe where it is legal to test autonomous cars in traffic, Finland is ahead when it comes to developing software for self-driving cars. In Espoo just outside Helsinki, the one-year-old start-up Sensible4 is testing their prototype of what they deem the world’s best vehicle automation system for difficult environments.

For self-driving cars to become truly reliable and autonomous they must be able to navigate in all kinds of weather and not just the ideal driving conditions the cars are usually tested in.

“We want to improve the efficiency and appeal of public transportation to convince more people on giving up private car ownership. So, we are developing autonomous driving systems for shared driverless vehicles like buses, rentals, and taxis,” says CEO of Sensible4 Harri Santamala.

He started testing the system in his home country partly because of the weather and his connection to Aalto University in Helsinki. Here, Sensible4 has been able to build on academic research stretching back to the eighties. So even though the start-up was officially founded in the spring of 2017, the preliminary work has been going on for years.

The self-driving software is innovative in the way that an algorithm takes over when snow hampers the sensors’ ability to map the road ahead. When snow, shadows, rain, or darkness causes the hardware to reach its limits the software takes over and predicts the road ahead from preset routes.

Autonomous cars can help the carbon-free economy

Sensible4 is part of the EIT Climate-KIC family. EIT Climate-KIC is working towards a climate-resilient society founded on a circular, zero-carbon economy. Autonomous cars – especially the ones promoting public transportation and shared vehicles – are part of that future.

To Sensible4, the EIT Climate-KIC start-up accelerator was the answer to the struggles, the young company dealt with before they were accepted into the programme.

“For a start-up, the short-term funding and building a customer pipeline are always a challenge. This is where EIT Climate-KIC has helped us a lot,” says Harri Santamala.

The accelerator has three stages and the possibility to get up to 95.000 Euro in equity-free funding.

EIT Climate-KIC offers a good mix of education that is relevant to startup, network opportunities, and naturally funding to help things getting started

says Harri Santamala.

EIT Climate-KIC is looking for the cream of the crop

The accelerator only accepts the best start-ups within greentech, cleantech and sustainability to take part in the three-stage accelerator, and right now you can become part of the family too.

Until 15 August the accelerator is accepting applications from Nordic startups that live up to the criteria like being ready for demonstration, having a scalable solution and a potential high climate impact or significant climate adaptation, and less than 18 months to the first major customer or investor.

The programme annually accepts 20 start-ups from Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland and runs from September 2018 until March 2019. So far, more than 1000 start-ups have been supported by EIT Climate-KIC, and the accelerator has helped them raise more than 550 million Euro in funding.

My best tip for others who want to apply is to really consider their business model and how they can leverage the EIT Climate-KIC funding to go to the next steps.

says Harri Santamala.

About Sensible4

The Finnish start-up was founded in 2017 and has developed a SAE level 4 solution based on the integration of artificial intelligence and sensor fusion.

Sensible4 believes that in the future, urban mobility will consist of shared, autonomous mobility such as light electric vehicles.

The system uses continuously multiple sensor modalities, visible light, invisible light, and different frequencies of radio signals to identify the objects around the vehicle.

The Sensible4-prototype is mounted on a Renault Twizy. The vehicle is equipped with a comprehensive sensor setup. 3D-lidars in both the front and rear gives a 360-degree vision around the vehicle up to 150 meters. Long and short-range radars around the vehicle detect static and mobile obstacles from 0 to 200 meters, and a camera setup of six cameras detect and recognize objects in all conditions.

 
Location
Finland
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