December 18, 2017

VTT’s robot car Martti unfazed by snowy road

No hands as VTT's automated car Martti drives itself on the snow-covered Aurora E8 road.
No hands as VTT's automated car Martti drives itself on the snow-covered Aurora E8 road.

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has successfully proven the competency of its automated car on a snow-covered road, making it the first such vehicle to do so.

The experiment with Martti, one of VTT’s two automated cars, took place on the Aurora E8 intelligent road in Muonio, Finland, where the car spent 24 hours training in the challenging conditions before starting to function properly.

Martti is built using the frame of a Volkswagen Touareg, and is equipped with cameras, antennas, sensors and laser scanners that are being updated to enhance the car’s functioning capacity, including in diminished visibility and on slippery roads.  

“It [Martti] probably also made a new world record in fully automated driving, making 40 km/h in a snowfall on snow-covered terrain without lane markings,” says project manager Matti Kutila from VTT. “It could have had even more speed, but in test driving it is programmed not to exceed the limit of 40 km/h.”

Martti has been developed with adverse weather conditions in mind, while its spouse Marilyn is equipped for urban settings. Different scenarios are added all the time to be tackled by the intelligence of the autonomous cars (cities, main roads, snow, exit ramps) while also increasing the driving speed.

Martti is about to be be equipped with communications modules that will enable it to communicate with digital transport infrastructure. At the moment it can only communicate with Marilyn.

The automated duo will also be joined by a new friend in the spring capable of tackling all terrains, VTT has revealed.