The rush to be the first in any technological race play tricks. The autonomous Finnish bus, baptized as Gacha, and with which Helsinki wants to recover the lost technological throne with Nokia and join the struggle for collective transport without a driver, failed two hours of operation during its global presentation in Helsinki last Friday. At 12.30, local time, the vehicle, announced as the first in the world prepared for all weather conditions, had to be reset (off and on) from the front panel. After two attempts he managed to start. However, eight minutes of tour in a closed circuit, with snowy ground but without obstacles or traffic, Gacha did not move. "It was more the presentation of the design", tried to explain a technician of Sensible 4, the company that heads a group of 28 companies embarked in the project.
Almost everything happened as planned for what the companies that called the event called "premier" world. More than a hundred media and international guests were summoned in Helsinki for the presentation of what was advertised as the first autonomous bus suitable for any weather condition. THE COUNTRY attended the invited event Moji, the Japanese company that has been responsible for the interior and exterior design vehicle.
For two hours, the guests lined up to take the first ride on a bus without a driver, although monitored from the inside by a Sensible 4 technician equipped with a command to steer the vehicle if necessary. No tests were conducted with traffic or obstacles, except for the presence of a layer of about two centimeters of snow and water on the esplanade opposite the Finnish Parliament. The route was a mere oval of about one hundred meters of perimeter that did not provide evidence of the supposed capabilities of Gacha to develop in the city or on the road, where it is supposed to act.
Just on the last trip, while the heads of the participating companies attended a round of questions to present the virtues of the project. Gacha gave a first symptom of exhaustion. In the starting position, a technician came down, opened the compartment located in the front and turned off the bus. So up to twice. Finally he started and started his last round of presentation with passengers on board.
In the last quarter of the lap, at 12.38, the bus was stopped and did not respond to the controls. The technicians tried to reset it. But this time it did not work. A few minutes later, they checked the left front wheel in case some object had blocked the all-wheel drive vehicle that the company claims is ready to move in the snow, in the rain or with fog. Minutes later, occupants and technicians pushed the vehicle a few meters to try to avoid what was preventing the march. Finally, the occupants left the car on foot.
"Well, today was more than anything the presentation of the design", justified one of the technicians of Sensible 4, who could not specify the cause of the breakdown at that time. However, the international press, mainly European and Japanese, had been summoned for the launch and the first test of Gacha, a vehicle created with Finnish technology and designed by the Japanese firm Muji.
The bus, according to the general director of Sesible 4, Harri Santamala, will continue in tests until April, when it is expected to join a service in the Finnish city of Espoo.
Santamala explained that the vehicle has "two million lines of codes for thousands of components. It has a capacity to transport 10 seated and six standing passengers, four-wheel drive, maximum speed of 40 kilometers per hour in autonomous mode and 100 kilometers of range without recharging ".
The system is equipped with GPS, Lídar (Laser Imaging Detection and Ranging) of 360 degrees, other own radars with the same coverage of the environment and cameras that provide a global vision to the driving devices. "All combine," said Santamala to defend that autonomous driving is more "safe, sustainable and effective."
Santamala also affirmed that the bus without driver will create more employment, although it did not specify how in the group of drivers. Neither did Anni Sinnemaki, deputy mayor of Urban Development, who presented the model as a action of the city to advance the planned measures against climate change in 15 years. In a confusing response he referred to "care for the elderly as one of the future employment niches".
Naoto Fukisawa, Muji's advisor, explained that the design and the name were inspired by the balls that are sold in expendoras machines and that contain a surprise inside.
The presentation of the Finnish and Japanese Gacha took place in the middle of the race because it is at the forefront of collective mobility with autonomous vehicles. In Spain, while the General Directorate of Traffic analyzes the homologation of these vehicles, cities and municipalities such as San Sebastián,Talavera de la Reina Y six other Catalan towns have already put these systems to the test.
In the rest of Europe, autonomous driving buses circulate in different phases on the streets of Lyon (France), Amsterdam and Wageningen (Holland), Bad Birnbach (Germany) or London (United Kingdom), among others. Paris has just released his.
The Nordic countries in alliance with Asia They are among the most involved, especially Sweden, where Volvo and Singapore's Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have presented last week, the first autonomous high-capacity bus.
Volvo is going to test its model with the high traffic density of Singapore in a first line that will work on the university campus before moving to the city.
This time it is a high capacity vehicle (80 passengers) and 12 meters long (compared to the current models three times shorter).