VTT SenseWay helps customers boost competitiveness with autonomous solutions

The new VTT subsidiary, VTT SenseWay, will make the expertise related to autonomous solutions available to customers. Our frontrunner position in autonomous innovations will boost the competitiveness of not only companies but of Finland as well. Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä, who participated in the opening event of VTT SenseWay in Turku, underscores the importance of artificial intelligence as driver of competitiveness.

“Finland is already a world leader in the development of autonomous ship applications. Continued success in the field requires not only investments but also collaboration between companies and research organisations. The establishment of a new high-tech company in Finland is a positive sign of faith in the future,” Minister Lintilä says.

Antti Vasara, President & CEO of VTT, says that the intention is for VTT SenseWay to operate in close collaboration with research and the business world, while creating sustainable growth and competitive advantage for customers.

“The company will provide assistance for commercialising VTT’s research findings to make it easier for companies to put results of top research into practice. We are not doing research for the sake of research but in order to solve the biggest challenges of the humankind in collaboration with our customers,” Vasara underscores.

Mayor of Turku Minna Arve welcomes VTT SenseWay as part of the region’s competence cluster.

“A world-class ecosystem related to autonomous systems has already emerged in the Turku region, and the City of Turku wants to support it in any way possible. Turku’s strength culminates in the collaboration with the various operators in the area,” Arve says.

Technology companies believe in innovations

The collaboration between companies and research organisations as the driver of competitiveness was also an issue emphasised in the comments of Mikko Valtee, Manager, Applied Research at Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology and Mika Heiskanen, Executive Board Member, Design & Engineering at Meyer Turku, who attended the opening event. Research and product development are important competitive factors for both companies.

“In the mining sector, we understood that we can no longer do things in a bigger way, but we need to do them in a smarter way. The future is autonomous and electric. Making the vision concrete requires commercial operators and agility. At Sandvik, we are always competing with innovations and product development,” Valtee says.

“Meyer Turku does not want to do the R&D of ships alone but as part of a network. The use of the most advanced technology has helped the company remain interesting and topical. We will keep on investing in automation even in the future, which will bring added value to both our customers and end users. In the future, we will also be competing with the life cycle costs of the product, in this case the ship. Energy efficiency is a significant question that can be partly addressed with autonomous solutions,” Heiskanen says.

Autonomous systems bring productivity and competitiveness to both industrial and transport-sector operators.

“Autonomous systems are developing rapidly and, therefore, we need to make investments in them right now. VTT SenseWay can operate in autonomisation projects in various sectors. Using autonomous solutions does not require replacing the old systems with something totally new. When autonomous solutions are integrated into operations or products phase by phase, the products will maintain their competitiveness on the market,” says Jere Laaksonen, Chief Executive Officer at VTT SenseWay.

Read the original news article on VTT’s web page.

In the future, data will travel via space

The telecommunication system of the future is a multifaceted whole, combining 5G mobile networks with satellite networks in space and low Earth orbit. The flexible and reliable connections and powerful data transfer can be utilised particularly on moving objects and in scarcely populated areas. Good telecommunication connections reliable in all conditions enable, for example, autonomous vehicles and self-navigating maritime traffic.

The vision of the future of telecommunications is a result of co-operation between VTT, the European Space Agency ESA and two German research organisations. – VTT has an understanding of what is needed for the telecommunications of the future and the ability to implement these technologies. The cooperation shows trust in our know-how, says Marko Höyhtyä, who coordinates space technology research activities at VTT.

Reliable connections on land, sea and air

5G mobile networks and satellite networks connected to them are suitable for applications where traditional connections are insufficient. Such applications include many mobile systems from cars to ships and aeroplanes, as well as various work machines or industrial equipment. Good telecommunication connections that are reliable in all conditions enable, for example, autonomous vehicles, self-navigating maritime traffic, or the remote operation of various work machines also on difficult to access sites.

Terrestrial connections can provide service to these systems, for example in the harbour area or at the airport, but farther from the shore or up in the air, they require support from satellites and drones.

Scarcely populated areas will benefit

Combining the 5G mobile network with satellite networks benefits scarcely populated areas. It is not worth it to build a comprehensive terrestrial network in the Arctic Region or the wilderness, but data transfer can be ensured with satellites in these areas, too.

The authorities are one key user group of the information networks of the future. The new connections offer an alternative to the public authority networks, the poor data transfer capacity of which limits, for example, the sending of images or video. In the future, sensor data collected from a border zone, for example, can be relayed via a satellite to a control room, allowing the sending of a drone to investigate the situation when necessary.

– Drones and satellites can also photograph the environment and provide data that allows the authorities to identify hazardous situations. This allows them to react to, for example, a starting forest fire quicker than today. On the other hand, satellites provide help and reserve connections in situations where a fire, earthquake or some other natural catastrophe has destroyed fixed networks.

The vision article “5G and Beyond for New Space: Vision and Research Challenges” was introduced at the international ICSSC conference in Japan in November 2019 and can be found at the Researchgate website. See the original news article on VTT’s web page.

Motorcycles to be made smarter and safer with digitalisation

VTT and KTM Nordic Oy (KTM) have started cooperation to equip the KTM motorcycle with similar technical data transmission and environment perception systems as VTT’s automated vehicles.  The vehicle safety systems and sensors are intended to make motorcycles more visible to other vehicles and traffic safer and more efficient than before.

VTT has received international recognition for the development of automated vehicles and their sensors and software, especially for difficult conditions. VTT is currently conducting research in more than ten international and domestic traffic automation and 5G and ITS-G5 communication projects and assignments. In addition to automated cars and machinery (Martti, Marilyn, Pate and eLvira), the research is now extended to also include powered two-wheelers (PTW).

The advancement of traffic automation has already introduced vehicles with smart sensors such as radars, laser scanners and cameras used for automatic image recognition into traffic. These sensors are used in advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) to detect and identify people, vehicles and objects located and moving in the vehicles’ immediate surroundings. Human driving and perception errors are the main cause of traffic accidents, and only very rarely is a technical failure of a vehicle the biggest factor contributing to an accident. In the next few years, advanced driver assistance systems will evolve towards AI-controlled vehicles enabling automated driving.

In this scenario of the future transport system, it is important to consider motorcycles as well. According to Dutch studies*), the sensors of driver assistance systems in current passenger cars, such as adaptive cruise control radar or camera, do not detect, much less identify a motorcycle unless it is ridden in the middle of the lane and/or at least in the centre line of the car’s direction of movement. In practice, the situation is even more challenging as regards smaller mopeds.

“Our work focuses on the development and research of vehicle environment perception and new communication systems. The aim is not to develop an autonomously ridden motorcycle; instead, the research emphasises the suitability and functionality of equipment, software and services operating in the motorcycle environment. The goal is to research and test how to make the motorcycle a smart part of the future transport system, and our research bike named Jarno plays an integral part in this”, says Principal Scientist Aki Lumiaho from VTT’s RobotCar Crew research team.

*) Westerband, E., ‘Adaptive Cruise Control & Motorcycle Recognition‘, RDW (2018) and
Rood, R., ‘ADAS Testing, Hoe reageren Advanced Driver Assistance Systemen op motorrijders?‘, RDW (2018)

Read the original news article on VTT’s web page.

SoftBank’s SB Drive and Finnish Sensible 4 starting autonomous driving collaboration

Japanese SB Drive announces a collaboration with Finnish Sensible 4 on self-driving technology integration for autonomous shuttles.

SoftBank’s self-driving subsidiary, SB Drive, has started a collaboration with Finnish autonomous driving technology company Sensible 4. The primary purpose of the cooperation is to accelerate the implementation of autonomous shuttles in Europe and Japan and bring them faster to mainstream adoption.

The collaboration takes first place in Finland, where SB Drive has started as a supplier for Sensible 4 within the EU funded FABULOS project. SB Drive’s Dispatcher will be tested with Sensible 4’s self-driving shuttle bus GACHA – addressing key challenges and opportunities related to autonomous driving. During the FABULOS project, GACHA, as well as other autonomous vehicles from Sensible 4, will be tested on public roads. Mobility services will also be provided to address local transportation needs.

Sensible 4 CEO, Harri Santamala: “For Sensible 4, the Japanese market is very exciting. We are building partnerships to provide solutions to the automotive industry and consequently improve the mobility of our societies. Our approach has been to focus on our core technologies and partnering with companies such as SB Drive, to jointly offer more than each partner could do separately. We decided together to have a pragmatic approach to this collaboration, and hence started it by integrating SB Drive’s Dispatcher to our full-stack solution to utilize it with our ongoing GACHA pilots in Finland.”

Companies aim at self-driving operations in both EU and Japan

SB Drive’s autonomous vehicle platform was integrated last year with Sensible 4’s self-driving vehicle system. The two companies are also looking into other use cases for cooperation – aiming to work towards an OEM partnership in the future with concrete self-driving operations in both EU and Japan.

SB Drive’s Dispatcher is a fleet management system able to remotely operate multiple autonomous vehicles, providing passenger monitoring and vehicle overwatch. The platform also features AI technology, capable of detecting movement within the vehicle. The system can warn passengers to prevent in-vehicle accidents as well as remotely controlling vehicles based on the operator’s needs.

GACHA developed by Sensible 4 is the world’s first autonomous shuttle bus capable of driving in all weather conditions and environments. The unique driverless vehicle has won multiple awards both for its design and outstanding driving capabilities.

Sensible 4 develop full-stack software solutions for autonomous vehicles and focuses on self-driving in difficult weather conditions – a crucial problem for driverless vehicles up to date.

More Information:

Harri Santamala, CEO

Read the original news article on Sensible4’s website.