A passenger ready to get on the shuttle bus. Image via Sensible 4

The first fully automated shuttle bus tracks the snowy landscapes of Finland

Japanese brand Muji teamed up with Finnish autonomous driving company Sensible 4 and designed Gacha – an all-electric public shuttle bus. After undergoing its pilot program in Helsinki, the shuttle bus will be the first driverless bus that is capable to operate in all climates.

The autonomous bus sits on a snowy pathway.  Image via Muji
The autonomous bus sits on a snowy pathway. Image via Muji

The autonomous bus is 4.5 meters long, 2.4 meters wide and 2.8 meters high. Gacha comes with 360-degree camera coverage and a GPS tracking system.

The shuttle bus tracks through the snowy forest of Finland. Image via Muji
The shuttle bus tracks through the snowy forest of Finland. Image via Muji

The vehicle has a maximum speed of 40 kilometers (25 miles) per hour. The electric motor offers a range of up to 100 kilometers (62 miles) with optional wireless charging.

The bus has LED screens which sends out message to waiting passengers. Image via Muji
The bus has LED screens which send out messages to waiting passengers. Image via Muji

The bus doesn’t have a distinguishable front or rear. It has a LED screen that serves as the headlight and external communicative screen. Gacha can seat ten passengers along with extra space for six standing adults.

The design follows the rounded square shape of the vehicle, which intends to provide a wide and comfortable space for all passengers.

A foreign visitor looks at the ‘gacha gacha’ capsule vending machine at an airport in Tokoname, Aichi Prefecture. Image via Mainichi

In Japan, Gacha means a vending machine that distributes platstic eggs. The inspiration for the shape and design comes from a ‘toy capsule’ that embodies joy and excitement, according to the Muji.

The image shows the view from inside the shuttle bus. Image via Muji
The image shows the view from inside the shuttle bus. Image via Muji

Inside the cabin, the layout is designed to bring the riders close to each other. Harri Santamala, the CEO of Sensible 4 said these vehicles are built to be a part of daily transportation service chain for local communities.

A passenger ready to get on the shuttle bus. Image via Sensible 4
A passenger ready to get on the shuttle bus. Image via Sensible 4

Users can hail the shuttle bus through an app on their smartphones. The ride-hailing app can also provide the latest schedule updates, offering the best route for passengers.

Most autonomous vehicles today cannot handle bad weather conditions like rain, fog, and snow. Sensible 4 tested the bus under the harshest of conditions in Arctic Lapland, Finland, before making it available for public use.

The plan is to roll out the shuttle bus starting with three Finnish cities Hameenlinna, Vantaa, and Espoo by 2020.

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