While Google has been testing their driverless car for months and months, with mixed results, the construction industry will actually be the first to enjoy the benefits of the developing technology.
Royal Truck & Equipment has developed a driverless Truck Mounted Attenuator (TMA) truck that they hope will save lives and reduce injury of construction workers on highway work zones. We see the non-driverless trucks everywhere, their purpose is to follow behind a road crew as a highly visible warning sign to other drivers on the road. They have an impact absorbing attachment on the back of the truck that reduces the damage from impact that these trucks experience daily.
The Autonomous TMA (ATMA) truck was created because Royal Truck & Equipment realized that it was a bit silly that in order to protect drivers and workers ahead of the truck, they had a human driving the truck whom would be susceptible to injury.
“I can tell you that these things (TMA trucks) are hit almost on a daily basis and they actually save lives,” said Robert Roy, President of Royal Truck & Equipment.
With the help of Micro Systems, developer of many different unmanned military vehicles which also save many America lives, the ATMA has become a reality and will hit streets soon. It works by using GPS data from the vehicle in front of the leader car, which tells the ATMA how fast and in which direction the leader car is moving.
Removing humans from being a shield for injury is obviously a step in the right direction, though it is still a bit scary to trust a vehicle driven by a computer system. It will be interesting to see if and how this technology could be adapted to other situations in the construction industry in years to come.
According to NBC News, the first ATMA truck is expected to be on Florida streets later this year.
Video below shows a demonstration of the ATMA in action:
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