Arctic Circle Autonomous Car Pilot Kicks Off

Image credit: iStockphoto/FotoDuets

A collaboration between Scandanavian technology companies and local authorities has resulted in the world’s first long-term autonomous driving service North of the Arctic Circle in the Norwegian city of Bodo.

The project is a collaboration between technology companies Mobility Forus of Norway and Finland’s Sensible 4, with the help of the Bodo and Nordland County Municipalities and will see two electric Toyota Proace vehicles, equipped with Sensible 4’s autonomous driving software, operate along a 3.6-kilometer route from the local harbor to the hospital.

Operating on public roads, the autonomous vehicles will travel up to 30km/h along a route with eight bus stops. 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

“We are witnessing a historic day: Bodo is officially operating the northernmost autonomous shuttle bus route in the world! Such a project brings with it tremendous challenges, not least because of the weather,” said project manager Rune Eiterjord from Smarter Transport Bodo.

“Bodo is known for experiencing four seasons in one day; it’s really exciting to see how the technology behind the autonomous shuttles will work in such a challenging climate. If the autonomous shuttles can operate in Bodo, they will work anywhere in the world.”

Harri Santamala, chief executive officer of autonomous driving technology company Sensible 4, said: “This project goes right to our core at Sensible 4. Operating in Bodo provides us with the opportunity to demonstrate how our technology performs in seriously bad weather that is often highly unpredictable. Moreover, we’re delighted to be able to provide a key service that creates an important public transport link for the local community in Bodo, where driver shortage remains a key challenge that the city is trying to overcome through their adoption of autonomous mobility technology.”

Bodo’s subpolar climate creates challenging weather that changes dramatically throughout the year. The annual mix of rain, wind, snow, daylight hours, and varying temperatures provide the ultimate test for Sensible 4’s all-weather software. 

The pilot will run from June to the New Year to catch the worst of the Nordic winter season.

The project continues to strengthen Bodo’s reputation as a city of innovation, with multiple smart projects held within the city. It is pursuing its vision to create a smart and attractive mobility system that benefits the environment and stimulates local innovation. 

Image credit: iStockphoto/FotoDuets