Sensible 4, a Finnish autonomous driving startup, has raised $7 million in series A funding led by NordicNinja VC, from its fund backed by Japanese tech companies and Itochu.

Founded in 2017, the startup has built autonomous driving software for demanding and harsh weather conditions, one of the main challenges facing driverless vehicles. Combining LiDAR-based software and sensors, Sensible 4’s technology allows for self-driving in snow, fog and heavy rain.

Last year the Espoo-based company released an autonomous shuttle bus, GACHA, in cooperation with Japanese retail company MUJI. GACHA won recognition in Japan, including the “Good Design Gold Award,” as well as the Beazley Designs of the Year award in the Transport category at London’s Design Museum.

“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,” said Harri Santamala, co-founder and CEO of Sensible 4.

The total round is expected to double and to close by this summer. The funding will be used to further develop the software, with a portion for building more GACHA busses, which should enter the Japanese and Chinese market at the end of the year. The company also wants to scale across Europe.

Shunsuke Noda of Itochu is pleased with the technology’s potential as well as the connection to the Nordic firms involved in the round: “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.”

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