Bercman Technologies, based in Tartu, Estonia, is preparing to launch the large-scale exports of its IoT-based Smart Pedestrian Crosswalk. The company is one of many international businesses that have chosen to run their smart mobility pilots in Helsinki. Bercman expects enormous opportunities in autonomous vehicles and their integration with other smart mobility solutions.
Bercman Technologies has just recently finished piloting its Smart Pedestrian Crosswalk in the Jätkäsaari district of Helsinki. The company’s path from Tartu to Jätkäsaari actually started from Barcelona, where its founders met the representatives of Forum Virium Helsinki, and from Copenhagen, where they met people from Helsinki Business Hub. Next, Bercman participated in an open call and its pilot project was accepted in Forum Virium Helsinki’s Last Mile Project in Jätkäsaari.
“We were very happy to be able to pilot our solution in real conditions and also abroad, where we could get to know a slightly different cultural space and business practices. Helsinki was an excellent location for piloting our Smart Pedestrian Crosswalk because Finland and Estonia are very closely connected, and because we knew that doing business in Finland would not be an obstacle. Jätkäsaari worked really well because it had a good amount of motor traffic as well as pedestrians,” says CMO Hans Leis from Bercman.
We are very grateful to Helsinki Business Hub and Forum Virium Helsinki. Without them, it would have been much more difficult for us as a startup company to set up our first pilot project.
Mart Suurkask, CEO, Bercman
The Helsinki region offers lots of open calls and smart mobility piloting opportunities and is taking concrete actions to create an optimal environment for real solutions to be tested in real environments. Helsinki Business Hub, for example, provided Bercman with information on the local business landscape, current piloting opportunities, potential investors, and relevant industry events. Forum Virium Helsinki played a big part in enabling the pilot project, providing help with permissions and integrating the Smart Pedestrian Crosswalk into the city infrastructure.
“We are very grateful to Helsinki Business Hub and Forum Virium Helsinki. Without them, it would have been much more difficult for us as a startup company to set up our first pilot project,” says CEO Mart Suurkask from Bercman.
From personal concern to the global market
But let’s take a step back to 2016, when Bercman Technologies was founded. That year, an unprecedented number of pedestrians were injured in traffic accidents in Estonia. Mart Suurkask felt strongly that something needed to be done.
“Bercman was founded with the goal of increasing pedestrian safety at crosswalks as well as accelerating the use of self-driving vehicles on the roads. The market for intelligent transportation systems had just started to grow, and we wanted to contribute to transportation technologies,” Suurkask says.
Now a company of six employees, Bercman works with municipalities and resellers around the world. Resellers mainly include traffic infrastructure companies that want to expand their product lineup and value propositions. The Smart Pedestrian Crosswalk is an IoT-based product, which utilizes machine learning and is able to monitor traffic, collect traffic data at crosswalks, and detect potential collisions. In dangerous situations, it warns pedestrians with a sound and motor vehicles with flashing LED lights on a sign pole. It also collects data on climate and pollution, which – together with traffic data – can be used in urban planning.
“We are not only looking at European countries but targeting the global market. Accidents at pedestrian crossings are a problem all over the world, and we want to solve it. We hope to start large-scale exports of the Smart Pedestrian Crossing this autumn. The solution also plays an important role in accelerating autonomous driving, as it offers self-driving vehicles new information about their surroundings and makes driving faster and safer,” says Hans Leis.
Piloting drives product development
Bercman Technologies embodies the new business opportunities that the integration of self-driving vehicles and other smart mobility solutions can offer. The company is currently working on a new solution, the Smart Mobility Hub – a device that communicates with self-driving vehicles. The Smart Mobility Hub collects real-time information about autonomous public transportation and displays it to passengers. It also enables passengers to book rides on self-driving busses. Another solution that Bercman is developing is a junction management unit, which uses artificial intelligence to optimize traffic lights. The company also plans to develop traffic-related software products.
The Helsinki pilot has prompted some changes to the Smart Pedestrian Crosswalk. The main goal of the pilot project was to test and validate the solution’s suitability in real-life outdoor conditions in an urban environment.
The pilot really helped us with product development.
Hans Leis, CMO, Bercman
“We learned that the power of weather should never be underestimated. The pilot really helped us with product development, as we were able to detect and fix a small weather-proofing issue. However, we are continuously working on product development to make the Smart Pedestrian Crosswalk more modular and to further increase and improve its functionality,” Leis says.
“The Nordic and Baltic region is a good place to develop new solutions and do business, as these markets welcome new technologies and new technology providers. Thanks to our new Finnish contacts, we definitely plan to expand our activities in Finland and hope to work with Finnish municipalities and resellers. There is an endless number of crosswalks that need to be made safer,” says Mart Suurkask.