Sensible 4 Oy, which has been developing self-driving software to enable vehicles to operate in difficult weather conditions, said last week that it has received an €8 million ($8.4 million U.S.) loan from the European Investment Bank, or EIB. The company said it will use the funding to continue developing and marketing its technology.
“We are excited that the EIB sees the potential in our technology and is financing us in this early stage,” said Harri Santamala, CEO of Sensible 4. “The money has helped us finalize our baseline product and will now help us continue to pre-production with our non-exclusive partners, targeting mass production.”
As a spin-off of Aalto University, Sensible 4 builds on over 30 years of research and development experience in robotics and autonomous driving. The Espoo, Finland-based company has developed SAE Level 4 self-driving software stack that it claimed can make any vehicle autonomous.
Sensible 4 enables self-driving in bad weather
Harri Santamala, CEO of Sensible 4
Sensible 4 said its technology combines software and data from multiple sensors to enable advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS) and autonomous vehicles to perform in challenging weather conditions. They include snow, heavy rain, fog, and sandstorms, as well as the absence of well-marked lanes.
Sensible 4 said self-driving vehicles can contribute to environmentally sustainable urban transport, reduce the number of traffic accidents from human error, and address driver shortages.
“On top of how shared, autonomous and electric transport is a sustainable option, self-driving vehicles also bring a solution to the acute driver shortage in Europe,” added Santamala. “Expanding public transport and increasing logistics would require even more drivers, and a self-driving fleet with remote operations is a great way to solve that problem.”
The technology has won multiple awards, including first place in the Dubai World Challenge for Self-Driving Transport 2019 competition and the Finnish Engineering Prize in 2020.
In September 2021, Sensible 4 began a pilot with the Swiss Transit Lab on an electric, autonomous shuttle bus. The company is also working with MOOVE GmbH to bring a self-driving shuttle to the European market by 2023.
In February 2022, Mobility Forus began operating Toyota Poaces vehicles north of the Arctic Circle using Holo's data and supervision platform and Sensible 4's software. In addition, Sensible 4 supported a successful self-driving shuttle bus pilot in Tampere, Finland.
EIB invests in sustainable transport
The European Investment Bank's loan is part of the European Guarantee Fund’s venture debt product to provide liquidity to small and medium-sized companies affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The automotive industry, including autonomous driving, is going through a radical transformation revolution with a high potential to reduce the carbon footprint from transport,” said Thomas Östros, a vice president at EIB. “Our financing for Sensible 4, a leader in addressing the widely recognized problem of autonomous operations in bad weather conditions, shows the EIB’s commitment to supporting European innovation leaders and more sustainable transport methods.”
The EIB is the long-term lending institution of the European Union owned by its member states. It makes long-term finance available for sound investment in order to contribute towards EU policy goals.
Sensible 4 said it will use the EIB financing to accelerate research and product development after a period where its growth was hampered by the pandemic. The company said it expects to reach the commercial stage soon and become a leading provider for the automotive sector in Europe and Asia.
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