Today Finnish startup Sensible 4, an autonomous driving tech pioneer, has raised approximately €6.3 million in a series A funding round, which will give it the boost it needs to expand across Europe and Asia. As Sensible 4’s first investment round, the funding was led by NordicNinja VC, a Nordic deeptech fund backed by Japanese tech companies, and ITOCHU, one of Japan’s largest trading companies.
Sensible 4, founded in 2017, specialises in vehicle automation systems that can handle the harshest winter conditions, coming straight from the Nordics. Challenging weather and limited sensor visibility have long been a problem for driverless vehicles. The company’s solution — which is first in allowing for self-driving in snow, fog and heavy rain — has attracted growing attention from major automotive players since the startups’ inception in 2017. It’s even created a new sector: “Snowtonomous technology”.
“We are very proud to have such strong investors joining Sensible 4 as shareholders. We are still one of the only companies in this field that can drive autonomously in all weather conditions. With the investment, we will be able to develop the technology to a level that allows us to integrate this to commercial use,” says Harri Santamala, co-founder and CEO of Sensible 4.
In 2019, Sensible 4 released the autonomous shuttle bus GACHA, in cooperation with Japanese retail company MUJI, which has sparked significant interest in Japan. The company is already one of the most well-known Nordic startups in the country. GACHA has received a lot of positive attention, and won the “GOOD DESIGN GOLD AWARD” (the number one recognition for design in Japan), as well as the prestigious ‘Beazley Designs of the Year’ award in the Transport category at the Design Museum in London. Sensible 4 also won ‘Best startup’ at the Dubai World Challenge for Self-Driving Transport and collected almost €1 million in prize money.
These fresh funds are expected to double and complete in summer, but until then, the first phase of this investment round will be put towards commercial production, software development and partly to build more GACHA busses, which will enter the Japanese and Chinese market at the end of the year.
“The global autonomous driving solutions still struggle to work in particular conditions like heavy snow, fog or typhoons. Sensible 4’s approach based on their long-term research for autonomous driving is totally different from other existing approaches. Their unique technology enables any kind of autonomous vehicle to drive anywhere and anytime. We are so excited to make this dream reality together with the “dream team” of autonomous driving vehicles,” says Tomosaku Sohara, Managing Partners at NordicNinja VC.
“We are very pleased to partner with Sensible 4 which provides with a unique LiDAR-based software built with state-of-the-art sensor fusion technology. Which makes self-driving cars operate safely in all weather conditions. Amidst the rapid advance of the progress and spread of 5G network worldwide, we believe Sensible 4’s self-driving technology will for sure contribute to developing mobility of the future with global auto manufacturers. In addition, we are very happy with the alliance with Sensible 4 and NordicNinja VC since it will also strengthen the close relationship between Itochu and Finland.” – Shunsuke Noda, Chief Digital & Information Officer at Itochu.