Martti, a robot car project developed by Finnish research firm VTT Technical Research Center of Finland Ltd, is a self-driving vehicle making progress on the country’s famed snowy and icy roads.

In mid-December 2017, the VTT Technical Research Center of Finland Ltd. announced its successful completion of a self-driving route through an “intelligent” snowy road in Muonio, Finland, claiming an unofficial snow-covered road speed record of 24 mph (40 km/h).

The actual road is equipped with intelligent transportation systems such as 5G connectivity and road sensing sensors which deliver data to autonomous vehicles. However, this test drive offered limited interactions with the road itself due to a lack of beacons.

As with all self-driving vehicles, it uses an array of cameras, antennas, and three forward-facing laser scanners to sense the front of the car. Unlike traditional LIDAR sensors, Martti is radar-based, which is said to be more efficient while navigating snowy roads.

The vehicle itself is based on the Volkswagen Touareg chassis, its name the equivalent of “Martin” in the Finnish language.

The next step towards production of VTT’s autonomous cars is to increase radar capabilities, invest in software monitoring intelligence, and continue to improve its performance on snowy roads. This year, a trip to Germany is planned for continued testing in May. No word yet on when updates to its software will be completed, what its Germany objective will be, and when/if it will ever go to market.

The VTT Technical Research Center in Finland is a technology developer that partners with companies in a variety of industries. Past project includes the building of a “CellPod” device to build berry (plant) cells, printed solar cell development, and other projects in the area of sustainable development and low emission city planning. According to its website, it has over 2,100 employees, 1,200 patents, 229 inventions, and 1,500 customers, which include 840 domestic and 410 foreign companies.