MUJI and Sensible 4 announced a shuttle, the Gacha robotbus, which is designed to function in all weather conditions. For this shuttle, Sensible 4 provided the autonomous driving technology, which provides the vehicle with superior positioning, navigation, and obstacle detection performance, thus allowing autonomous driving throughout the year, regardless of the environment and conditions. MUJI provided the vehicle design and user experience.
The vehicle will premiere to the public on March 2019 in Helsinki. After launch, the Gacha shuttle bus will operate with passengers in three Finnish cities as part of real-life traffic, and it also will be seen in the MUJI store, which opens November 2019 in Helsinki. 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 for the public by 2021. Currently, Sensible 4 says it is looking for suitable industry partners that would be interested in producing the buses as well as investors to accelerate the company’s growth.
Sensible 4 focused in technology test and validation in arctic Lapland conditions, which the company says gives it an advantage over other self-driving technologies. Of course, 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 the daily transportation service chain. Autonomous vehicles can't become mainstream until their technology has been ensured to work in all climates," said Harri Santamala, CEO of Sensible 4.
Sensible 4 delivers systems to autonomous vehicles and aims on collaborating with the leading automotive OEMs and their suppliers. Sensible 4 says its software can be integrated into any autonomous vehicle platform, from small cars to full-size buses. Currently, Sensible 4 offers free open-to-all rides as part of the pilot in southern Finland in Espoo, the home city of the company.
Highlights of the design are its shape, which is designed with no front or back; the LED light belt, which is made from the combination of the headlights and communication screen; and the seating, which follows the soft, rounded square shape of the bus.
Features of the Gacha bus include dimensions of 4.5 x 2.4 x 2.8 m (LxWxH), capacity of 10 seated and 6 standing, and max speed of 40 km/h (25 mph) autonomous. The bus has a 4WD electric powertrain; range of 100+ km (62+ mi); fast charging (wireless charging as an option); and sensor package consisting of four LiDARS, eight radars, 360° camera vision, high-precision GPS, inertia unit, and control over 4GLTE/5G.
The prototype is slated to be unveiled to the public in Finland (near Helsinki) in the first half of 2019, when test driving will begin in three Finnish cities