The Gacha shuttle prototype will first be unveiled to the public in Finland on March 2019. Test driving in traffic is scheduled for the first half of 2019.
Sensible 4 The Gacha shuttle prototype will first be unveiled to the public in Finland on March 2019. Test driving in traffic is scheduled for the first half of 2019.

Sensible 4, automation systems technology company and Japanese retailer MUJI, have partnered to create the first autonomous shuttle bus in the world. Sensible 4 provides driving technology that ensures superior positioning, navigation, and obstacle detection performance, which allows for autonomous driving throughout the year regardless of environmental conditions. MUJI provides the vehicle its famous design and user experience.

The Gacha shuttle bus prototype will premiere to the public March 2019, with planned routes to escort passengers in three Finnish cities as part of real-life traffic shortly after its debut. Sensible 4 and MUJI are finalizing plans for the first Gacha fleet which is expected to roll out in 2020. The aim of the collaboration is to develop autonomous shuttle bus fleets for mainstream use and to provide real transportation services available to the public by 2021. Currently, Sensible 4 is looking for suitable industry partners whom would be interested in producing the buses as well as investors to accelerate company growth.

Weather plays a critical role in opening the market for autonomous buses or robotaxis. Currently heavy rain, fog or snow are preventing autonomous vehicles from driving as the existing technologies are mostly being tested and developed in warm climate conditions. Meanwhile, Sensible 4 has focused in technology testing and validation under the Finnish arctic Lapland conditions, giving the company a unique advantage over the other self-driving technologies. Naturally all autonomous vehicles need to be able to drive in various weather conditions before they can be commercially deployed.

"We are developing these vehicles so that they can become part of daily transportation service chain. Autonomous vehicles can't become mainstream until their technology has been insured to work in all climates," says Harri Santamala, CEO of Sensible 4.

Sensible 4 delivers systems to autonomous vehicles and aims in collaboration with the leading automotive OEMs and their suppliers. Sensible 4 software can be integrated in to any autonomous vehicle platform from small cars to full -size buses. Currently, Sensible 4 offers free open-to-all rides as part of pilot in southern Finland in Espoo, the company's home city.

The Gacha shuttle includes:

  • Capacity: 10 seats and six standing spaces
  • Maximum speeds of 25 mph autonomously
  • Four-wheel-drive, electric powertrain
  • 60-mile range
  • Fast charging, with a wireless option
  • 4 lidars, 8 radars, 360 degree camera vision, high precision GPS inertia unit and control of 4G/5G LTE

The highlight of the design is its shape, which has no front or back, includes an LED light belt made from the headlights and communication screen, and seating that follows the contoured square shape of the bus.

Helsinki: A Functional Test Platform for Automated Vehicles

Helsinki is continuously at the top of comparisons and evaluations of the European and global smart cities. The city has strongly invested in digital technologies for smart city developments and has aims to create the most effective transport services in the world.

“Helsinki was one of the first cities in the world to pilot self-driving robot busses on public roads. The fruitful collaboration between Sensible 4 and MUJI proves Helsinki’s reputation as an internationally attractive test environment, bringing together interesting startups and companies specialising in the field to seek the best ways to introduce automated vehicles to the city and improve the everyday lives of residents in the process,” says Marja-Liisa Niinikoski, CEO of Helsinki Business Hub.

Helsinki Business Hub has had a key role in introducing MUJI to Sensible 4. Helsinki Business Hub is a regional development agency whose role is to help foreign companies to establish their businesses in and to enable innovation driven companies to grow and develop in Helsinki.