Basemark enables autonomous driving in the fast growing global market

Futuremark, Rightware and now Basemark – Tero Sarkkinen has been the dynamo behind the success stories of three Finnish software companies, managing computer graphics companies in Finland, the United States and China since 1999. Sarkkinen founded Basemark a few years before Chinese company Thundersoft acquired Rightware from him in 2017, which developed software for car user interfaces, graphical instrument clusters and entertainment systems.

– Rightware’s other owners asked if I would be interested in buying the same business out of Rightware, which I had originally bought out of Futuremark. It had done its job: the child had grown up and could run faster than the parent, says Sarkkinen, who is now chairman of the board at Basemark and the company’s largest shareholder.

Basemark’s Rocksolid Engine, a real-time graphics and compute software solution launched in 2017, is targeted for the automotive industry giants. The software processes all the smart car’s calculations from its different sensors, orchestrates and schedules the data, thereby optimizing the car performance.

– We make tools for customers who develop artificial intelligence – the algorithms that analyze the data – based on which the self-driving car makes the right decisions in traffic.

Rocksolid Engine is also suitable for machine vision processing in industrial robots and edge devices as well as AR and VR systems.

FOCUS ON THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY

In the company’s early years, the 2015 founded Basemark invested the cashflow from consulting and different projects into developing its own product.

– We were looking for direction in the first three years e.g. with mobile device performance testing software. Then we decided to focus on the automotive industry because self-driving cars are a huge trend and I have an extensive personal network of companies and people in the industry, Sarkkinen recalls.

The clear focus and recruitment of top talent from Finland and around the world has quickly produced profitable growth. Basemark currently has about 40 employees in Helsinki and subsidiaries in Munich and Detroit. The company’s customer base includes the world’s leading automotive OEMs, semiconductor suppliers like AMD, Intel, Mediatek, NVIDIA and Qualcomm, as well as major companies in consumer electronics and other industries.

BUSINESS FINLAND ENABLED INDEPENDENT GROWTH

Basemark has used Business Finland’s product development loan funding to develop the Rocksolid Engine software as well as other projects.

– Business Finland’s support has been paramount, especially in the early stages of the company. Without the loans, moving forward so quickly would not have been possible, and we would have had to go to a private equity investor. We grew to a turnover of EUR 8 million without a venture capital investment, says Sarkkinen.

In July 2020, Environmental Technologies Fund (ETF) announced a EUR 7 million capital investment in Basemark. According to ETF, the introduction of autonomous vehicles can reduce transport emissions by as much as 80% through the introduction of Transport as a Service and improved asset utilisation.

– When cars can be shared, there is less need for private car ownership, and the amount of traffic is reduced. Someone can order a half-hour ride in the car while I go to the store, says Sarkkinen.

SAFETY REQUIRES MORE POWER FOR AI

Safety – and the real-time processing of the vast amount of data needed to deliver it – remain the most significant challenge that is holding back the long-predicted breakthrough of self-driving cars. When it comes to safety, 99% accuracy in the algorithms’ decision-making is not enough.

– The challenge increases exponentially when the accuracy has to be 99.999%. If you drive at 120 kilometres per hour, the car is moving more than three metres in a tenth of a second. At the same time, there can be a million data points generated by various sensors, LiDAR, radars and cameras. All that data must be processed in well under ten milliseconds, so the car also has time to think what it needs to do in that situation, Sarkkinen explains.

Even today’s top processors may not be powerful enough.

– Currently, even the high-end models consume so much power and produce so much heat that an electric car’s operating range can drop by two-thirds. When you brake, a wave of hot air comes from the trunk, as if you are in a sauna.

AIMING FOR POLE POSITION

According to Sarkkinen, the current premium car models are starting to reach Level 3 Conditional Automation, but even the step up to Level 4 High Automation is very demanding. There is plenty of work for Basemark as the automotive industry leaders compete towards Level 5 Full Automation.

– Nevertheless, these cars are now getting pretty close. Automatic parking, lane assist and highway pilot automation take care of most situations quite well. But urban driving, with its many intersections and unpredictable road users, is still especially challenging.

Basemark is using ETFs capital injection to accelerate product development as well as boosting its sales and marketing firepower.

– Our vision is to be the world’s most used brain in smart cars, says Sarkkinen.

Read the original case story on Business Finland’s webpage.

Awake.AI Enabling Smart Ships to Make Port Calls in Port of Rotterdam

Port of Rotterdam chose Awake.AI as a smart port development partner to enable smart ships to make port calls in the future.

Awake.AI is a frontrunner in the field of digitizing maritime logistics for more efficient port calls and smarter operational planning. Port of Rotterdam is fully committed to innovation, maximizing the benefits of the new potential that digitization offers. Together they worked toward a smarter future.

Shifting Toward Autonomous Future in Maritime

Maritime logistics and port operations are experiencing ever more extensive digitalization in the coming years. Environmental sustainability is the key driving force in this transformation. More automation of processes will be introduced, more mandatory environmental reporting will be enabled. As maritime businesses will have to adapt to more stringent environmental regulations, for example complying with the “Paris Agreement” and the “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, it will have an improving effect on air quality in port cities as well as providing much greater efficiency and profits for all collaborating actors.

Automation will eventually lead to smarter and even autonomous ships plus more extensive autonomous maritime logistics operations. For the whole maritime shipping industry to stay relevant in the future, it needs to start offering constantly better customer service in all dimensions. This means introducing more digital services throughout the value chain. Those companies and ports who do not fully engage into digitalization now, will be left behind. Trying to play catch up later, gets harder and harder for them.

The Need – Digital Twin for The Port of Rotterdam

The largest seaport in Europe, The Port of Rotterdam, seeks to host smart ships in the future. Port of Rotterdam wanted to make their port operations more efficient, reliable, and predictable with a commitment to provide outstanding digital facilities and data services. Also, the port wants to offer their users a seamless and trusted experience when doing business with them.

To achieve this objective, they wanted to create a digital twin of the actual port to test and learn about the transformational process for this smarter future, without risking their ongoing port operation.

The physical properties and characteristics of the Port of Rotterdam were required to be transferred into a simulation where their multiple variables could be changed and tested fast and effectively, and without risking the physical operation of the port. Also, with digital twins, addressing the potential risks in safety is a tremendous help, when compared with real-world trial and error. The Port of Rotterdam aspires to be the safest and the most efficient port in the world as well, and is constantly working on this ambition.

The massive scale of the operation of the Port of Rotterdam with its 8,8 million containers and almost 15 million total TEU (fourty-foot equivalent unit) also translates to a tremendous environmental impact when port calls, material flows and smart ships are optimized. Using digital twins is a pioneering way to build an understanding of the key metrics of large industrial companies and organizations, as well as to learn.

The Solution – The Smartest Port of the Future Meets Awake.AI

Awake.AI’s solution was to enable smart shipping by creating a digital port and ship platform with digital handshakes between ships and ports through Awake’s own smart platform. This gives an excellent view on determining possible information gaps, standard development requirements and offers better overall optimization of port calls.

For testing smart ships and digital port operations, a smart ship port call management system and simulator was created, which is not only simulating real world scenarios, but also demonstrating the impact of any given changes, before any physical changes would be made to the infrastructure of the port. This truly provides a better operational planning capability and more efficient port calls. Awake.AI specializes in AI and machine learning (ML) in maritime logistics, and thus it was a natural choice for the Port of Rotterdam to work together with Awake.AI for exploring changes in Europe in the field of smart shipping and smart ports.

Benefits

Toward smarter maritime logistics

Awake.AI expects that the first physical smart vessels in commercial operation will already be operating by 2025. The first vessels can perform missions in or near the port area such as remote piloting.

Awake.AI is highly committed to helping its clients in becoming early adopters and industry leaders in digitizing and automating port operations, as well as optimizing complete value chains. This is done through supporting the clients all the way from conceptualization to design, implementation to optimization.

Leading role for Europe

As environmental concerns are at the very core of the Port of Rotterdam, they are also committed to combating climate change and aim to play a leading role in the global energy transition.

Digitalization and automation are introducing entirely new avenues for making maritime logistics and port calls more efficient, eventually leading to cleaner waters, significantly lower emissions, and lower operational costs, as well as wasting less time. A smarter future is also a greener future.

With Awake’s platform and its growing number of ecosystem partners, the ambition is to reduce cumulatively 10% of the global CO2 emissions from shipping by 2030. Awake.AI is ensuring the future of sustainable and intelligent maritime logistics.

Learn more

Read the whole case story on Awake.AI’s website.

SmartRail ecosystem accelerating sustainable mobility and growth

The diverse SmartRail ecosystem is accelerating sustainable mobility and the development of user-centric mobility services whilst creating new business opportunities.

Transport is one of the fastest growing industries in the world and is influenced by many megatrends such as climate change, urbanization, servicitation, networking and moving towards autonomous operations. The revolution in the transport sector provides excellent opportunities for diverse Finnish know-how and new operating models to create new innovative solutions and new business to meet market needs. The SmartRail ecosystem, which combines the diverse expertise of companies, public authorities and research organizations, will accelerate the implementation of sustainable, smart and user-centric urban transport while increasing the competitiveness of its members.

Data and services will be at the core

Urban environments aim for a sustainable and user-centered transport system that can serve its residents safely and smoothly. Digitalisation, advanced technologies, human-centric design and new operating models are key tools in responding to the challenges of climate change and transport demand increase. Emission-free intelligent solutions based on public transport and new mobility services will be pivotal to this. The transport system will become electrified, service-oriented autonomous. Transport is becoming the most important sector in developing the data economy, since transport is currently within a process of increasingly interconnecting with information and energy networks.

Electrified public transport with its user-centric services is the direction of future urban transport – and the SmartRail ecosystem is one of the driving forces in accelerating this transformation. The ecosystem aims to become the most attractive provider of tram-integrated functionalities and services within the market sector. The technological focus is to deliver the best tram in the world in terms or passenger and life cycle services, and to provide solutions that increase the safety and flexibility of trams and trains in the transition towards autonomous operations.

A diverse network of experts and co-development will increase the competitiveness of a growing ecosystem

The annual turnover of the SmartRail ecosystem with its associated mobility services is estimated to be several billion euros in 2030. The competitive edge of the SmartRail ecosystem is centered around the diverse expertise of companies, public authorities and research organizations, that is harnessed to serve a common goal. A systematically guided co-innovation process and the deployment of a world-class development environment for rail-related mobility services are key tools in achieving this goal. These will accelerate the development of the companies’ service and product development and hence the market uptake of solutions that add value and benefits for the end-users and cities.

SmartRail is a growing ecosystem that is being developed in stages and can be joined by new actors along the way, bringing their own contribution to the ecosystem. SmartRail’s first innovation phase with its RDI projects was launched in early 2019 with the support of Business Finland. The first stage main themes are tram and subsystem automation solutions, information systems and virtual technologies – and also, ramping up the business oriented innovation ecosystem. The second innovation phase was launched in February 2020 with the main themes of proactive situational awareness, user-driven solutions and impact assessment. Impacts will be evaluated from the perspective of enterprise-driven international business as well as from the perspectives of the environmental and socio-economic benefits for mobility within the urban transport system. The third innovation phase focusing on tram-related mobility services and other services is to be launched later in 2020.

In addition to the ecosystem anchor company Skoda-Transtech and the research coordinator VTT, the organisations implementing the SmartRail innovation phases include Mevea, Mipro, 3D House, Creanex, DA-Design, Lumikko, Tamware, EC Engineering, Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology, Kajaani University of Applied Sciences, University of Tampere, Tampere Tramway, City of Tampere, Business Tampere, Helsinki City Transport and Traficom. The SmartRail ecosystem is supported by Business Finland and currently includes also Ambientia, Proxion, Teknoware, Cinia, Vinka and Isoft as members of the ecosystem. For more information visit the SmartRail ecosystem website https://smartrailecosystem.com/ .

 

Picture: Tampere Tramway Ltd.

Gacha robotbus – The first autonomous shuttle bus in the world for all weather conditions

Sensible 4 combined their expertise with Japanese MUJI to create an elegant robotbus, first in the world to function in all weather conditions. For this shuttle Sensible 4 provides the autonomous driving technology which ensures the vehicle with superior positioning, navigation and obstacle detection performance. MUJI provides the vehicle its famous design and user experience.

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 test and validation under the arctic Finnish Lapland conditions giving the company a unique advantage over the other self-driving technologies.

Elegant robotbus that drives through rain, fog and sleet

The advanced technology of autonomous driving has a lot of potential in urban environments but also in the countryside where decreasing birth rates and aging populations are causing problems in these communities. The GACHA autonomous shuttle bus can be shared among the community which paralleled MUJI’s philosophy. Thus, the collaboration with Sensible 4 started in 2017 through introduction made by Helsinki Business Hub and GACHA was launched in Helsinki in March 2019.

“The GACHA development got started when Sensible 4 team, working back then with the first generation of robot buses, noticed that they just don’t perform at all even in light rain, not to mention the typical winter conditions in Finland. Completely autonomous self-driving technology is not here yet. Most self-driving cars can operate only in ideal weather conditions and well-marked roads. This is what Sensible 4 has managed to change through repeated tests in the harsh winter conditions of the Finnish Lapland”, says Harri Santamala, CEO of Sensible 4.

Sensible 4 is an Espoo-based startup that delivers systems to autonomous vehicles and aims on collaborating with the leading automotive OEMs and their suppliers. Their software can be integrated into any autonomous vehicle platform from small cars to full -size buses. The company provided the technology for GACHA, including superior positioning, navigation and obstacle detection to allow year-round autonomous driving regardless of the weather. MUJI, a Japanese lifestyle retail company, provided the vehicle’s design, developing the functional aesthetic and optimum user experience.

Aside from its all-weather capabilities, MUJI’s design differentiates GACHA from similar projects, in particular the vehicle’s lack of a front or rear. The interior seating follows the soft rounded square shape of the bus, creating more space for passengers while the LED light belt serves as both headlights and an external communication screen. Inspiration for the design came from a toy capsule, a universal shape that embodies joy and excitement, bringing peace and happiness to those who encounter it.

Integrating robotbuses into the daily transportation service chain

Finland is leading the way in developing autonomous system and the government is committed for further enabling future intelligent mobility. One major advantage is the favorable Finnish legislation for new experiments – the Finnish legislation not only allows automated vehicles to be used in public roads but also encourages the digitalization of all transport services. The recent heavy deregulation makes it easier for new types of transportation services to enter the market. Also, the cities of the Finnish capital region are committed and open in enabling new mobility services and solutions, like GACHA, being developed in the area.

“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.

After the preview in March, GACHA began pilot operating for the general public in Espoo in April 2019, later rolling out to Hämeenlinna, Vantaa and Helsinki. MUJI and Sensible 4 are currently planning to produce the first GACHA fleet for use on public roads in 2020 for various cities in Finland and abroad. MUJI and Sensible 4 aim for the self-driving shuttle fleets to operate as a part of the cities’ existing transportation systems in 2021, with a long-term objective of establishing partnerships with other pioneering cities around the world.

Contact information:

info@sensible4.fi
https://www.sensible4.fi/