Automated and autonomous vehicles (L3, L4, L5) can be tested on Finnish public roads. The test vehicle must have a designated driver – but not necessarily inside the vehicle.
Snowbox provides predefined routes for testing on public roads in Lapland. Testing in Finnish public roads is not limited to predefined roads, but we wanted to customize some routes where specific winter or other unpredictable northern challenges of CAD normally occur.
The service includes obtaining a license plate, support on required documentation and management of technical inspections and performance tests needed in the authorization process.
Service provided by Traficom
Predefined routes in Lapland
The routes presented here have typical northern challenges for connected and automated driving during winter.
Each route is assigned a score between 1 and 10 for each criterion. The higher the score, the more challenging for a connected or automated vehicle to drive on that road.
Sensor Blockers [SenBloc]
Obstacles blocking the view of sensors, are challenging for any vehicle trying to find its way autonomously.
Weather-related northern features: snow, drifting snow, ice, freezing ice
Road obstacles [RoadObs]
Unusual or unexpected obstacles on the road, can be difficult for an autonomous vehicle to deal with. Perception technologies might not be able to understand what the vehicle is facing, which can result in undesired behavior.
Northern features: reindeer on the road, snowmobiles and dog sledges crossing a road
Communication issues [CommIs]
Any issues related to wireless communications between a vehicle and the rest of the world, can create problems for autonomous driving functions that rely on that data. This communication can have issues due to fading, noise, network switching, antenna switching or border crossing.
Road user density [RoadUD]
Dynamic scenarios including many other road users, are challenging for autonomous vehicles. Especially in case of vulnerable road users (VRUs) because mistakes can easily lead to injuries or fatalities. Many objects need to be recognized and their trajectories estimated, based on which desired actions should be taken.
Traffic sign density [TrafSiDen]
Autonomous vehicles might struggle to correctly detect or understand certain traffic signs. For example, when signs are electronic, unusual, damaged, (partially) blocked or include text. The more traffic signs together, the more challenging it becomes for an autonomous vehicle to correctly interpret and obey each one of them.
Northern features: unusual regional traffic signs like reindeer and ski track warning signs
Road characteristics [RoadChar]
Automated driving functions might be tested for a limited number of road characteristics. Varying the characteristics of a road can therefore be challenging for autonomous vehicles.
Different intersections [DifInt]
Intersections can be challenging in many ways for an autonomous vehicle. Its trajectory will be cut by other road users with which it needs to interact safely. Traffic signs need to be detected and respected. Sensor views can get blocked by objects or other road users. Dimensions and allowable speeds can vary.
Confusing elements [ConElems]
Certain elements can confuse sensors and thereby cause undesired or unexpected behaviour. For example, objects or materials with a high or unusual reflectivity.
Ambient conditions [AmCons]
Adverse weather or lighting conditions can have a negative influence on the driving performance of an automated vehicle or its functions.
Northern features: snow, ice, dark, bright sunlight, reflecting sunlight, low arc sun, snow fog, heavy packed snow on the road on windy days without snowing, drifting snow on the road, strong reflecting light from snow on bright days
Based on the criteria explained above, routes and areas are selected here. Each route or area is assigned a score between 1 and 10 for each criterion. The higher the score, the more challenging for a connected or automated vehicle to drive on that route or area.
Main notes for driving in winter conditions
- Winter tire must be used from November till March if weather conditions so require.
- Snow plough is always exceptional situation on the road, causing circulating snow and therefore reducing visibility.
- Slipper invisible black ice can be on the road.
- The vehicle driving front of you, can cause snow fog or circulating snow preventing visibility on frosty days.
- Freezing snow can block sensors, lights, and grab to the windshield preventing visibility.
- Roads are maintained frequently, and during and after snowing. Important main roads are maintained firstly, then the secondary road network.
- Snow is reflecting sun light effectively. Reflecting light can dazzle sensors or driver’s eyesight.
- Wind can pack vertical snow ridges on the road.
- All predefined roads are one lane, meaning one travelling in one direction, and one travelling in the opposite direction.