japanese lifestyle retailer MUJI, and finnish autonomous driving company sensible 4, have launched the first driverless bus for all weather conditions. titled ‘GACHA’, and previously announced on designboom here, the self-driving shuttle bus has been presented in helsinki with a view to begin public-facing operations as soon as this april. GACHA will begin operating for the general public in the city of espoo in april 2019, before rolling out to hämeenlinna, vantaa, and helsinki later in the year.

muji self-driving bus
all images by justus hirvi/bonzu + MUJI

 

 

while sensible 4 provided the technology for the 4.5-meter-long vehicle, including positioning, navigation, and obstacle detection, MUJI has provided the vehicle’s design, developing the functional aesthetic and user experience. the team aims for the fleets to operate as a part of the cities’ existing transportation systems in 2021, with a long-term objective of establishing partnerships with other cities globally.

muji self-driving bus

 

 

aside from its all-weather capabilities, the design also has no front or rear. the interior seating — accommodating ten in addition to six standing passengers — follows the soft rounded square shape of the vehicle, creating more space for passengers, while the LED light belt serves as both headlights and an external communication screen. MUJI and sensible 4 say that the 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.’

muji self-driving bus

 

 

‘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,’ says harri santamala, CEO of sensible 4. ‘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.’ see designboom’s previous coverage of the project here.

muji self-driving bus

muji self-driving bus

muji self-driving bus

muji self-driving bus

muji self-driving bus

 

 

 

 

 

project info:

 

design: MUJI and sensible 4
max speed: 40 km/h autonomous (25 mph)
powertrain: 4WD electric
range: 100+ km (62 miles)
dimensions (l*w*h): 4.5 * 2.4 * 2.8 m (14.75 * 7.87 * 9.18)
capacity: 10 seats, 6 standing
features: fast charging with wireless charging as an option; easy access for people with limited mobility; exterior displays around the vehicle for vehicle intention communication

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