Autonomous Vehicles Brave Cold Weather Near the Arctic

Image: Toyota

In perhaps the most extensive pilot of its kind in challenging weather conditions, three Nordic companies have joined forces to deliver a new autonomous public transport service North of the Arctic Circle.

In February 2022, two custom-built, fully electric Toyota Proaces will hit the roads of the city of Bodø in Northern Norway.

The service will be driven on public roads in mixed traffic, along a 3.6-kilometer-long route in the city center, and support the public transportation system.

February is the coldest month of the year in Bodø, with changing winds, an average of 11 days of snow, seven days of rain, and 6.5 hours of daylight.

Norway’s Mobility Forus will operate the vehicles using Finnish tech company Sensible 4’s all-weather self-driving software and Danish Holo’s data and supervision platform.

“Self-driving fleet operation on public streets in urban areas is challenging for any autonomous technology. Doing it in a city located above the Arctic Circle is even more challenging,” says Harri Santamala, chief executive of Sensible 4.

The autonomous service in Bodø will complement the already existing public transportation system. Passengers can get on and off the autonomous shuttle bus from dedicated bus stops at the harbor, city center, parks, and the regional hospital. However, there is currently a gap in the overall service, and parking is a continual issue.

“The citizens of Bodø have long requested service to the public hospital. We believe that the scheduled route will provide an attractive and practical alternative to private driving for the population in general,” says Linn Terese Lohne Marken, chief executive officer of Mobility Forus.

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.

Image: Toyota