The autonomous shuttle bus service, part of the EU-funded SHOW project, has started in Tampere, Finland. Two Toyota Proaces, automated by Finnish autonomous technology company Sensible 4, are transporting locals as a last-mile service to the tramline.
The piloting is supporting the strategic goal of the City of Tampere to be a pioneer in smart city development.
“Self-driving cars are an incredible opportunity for us to build a smooth, sustainable, and smart city. In the future, autonomous vehicles can complement public transport in many ways, for example in tram feeder traffic," said Anna-Kaisa Ikonen, the mayor of Tampere. "The service trial will give us a lot more information about this, and hopefully, many passengers will get an exciting car ride experience."
The route is 2.1-miles long, it has seven bus stops, the service is free of charge to use, and the speed is about 19 miles per hour.
“In the future, we can utilise artificial intelligence and data for the benefit of the citizens in ways we may not have yet invented," Ikonen said. "As a result of diverse know-how and unconventional thinking, solutions improving citizens’ daily lives will be created, generating new business and knowledge. It’s great, not only locally, but also nationally and internationally."
“These extreme winter conditions and realistic operation with real customers give us a great opportunity to find new aspects to development work and collecting data," said Jussi Suomela, CBO of Sensible 4. "In the end, self-driving vehicles must cope with this kind of weather as well and this is the time of the year when public transport is truly needed. Operation with end-users brings the most valuable user information, which is often impossible to design beforehand without real experience."
Sensible 4 Oy is a Finnish self-driving technology company that develops autonomous driving software.
“Operation with passengers in the most difficult conditions is a challenge and source of information for us," Suomela said. "It has been great to see that customers are happy and the vehicles have operated well.”