Almost exactly 2 years ago, we shared details about an autonomous, driverless construction work zone vehicle that would be the first to hit US streets of its kind. That vehicle is gearing up to hit US streets as the Colorado Department of Transportation has teamed up with its developers.
The Autonomous Impact Protection Vehicle (AIPV), also known as the Autonomous Truck Mounted Attenuator (ATMA) Truck, by Royal Truck and Equipment is a first of its kind vehicle which uses a leader-follower system to operate. Traditional TMA trucks are meant to follow work zone vehicles to protect the leader vehicle from other vehicles that may run into the back of them. The leader vehicles move slower, as they often are responsible for dropping construction barrels and completing pavement striping operations. The major problem with that is the fact that a driver is in the vehicle that’s designed to get hit with the impact.
“Just in the last four years, there have been 26 incidents where a member of the traveling public struck a CDOT impact protection vehicle — that’s almost seven per year,” said Shailen Bhatt, CDOT Executive Director in a press release. “This is a dangerously high number when you consider that in some instances, a CDOT employee is sitting in the driver’s seat of the vehicle that was hit. By using self-driving technology, we’re able to take the driver out of harm’s way while still effectively shielding roadside workers.”
Using a driverless vehicle to take impact makes logical sense, but how does it work? Through a system of GOS receivers, computers, a compass, and a transceiver, the driverless follower vehicle automatically adjusts speed and direction to keep up and stay a safe distance from the leader vehicle, which is operated by a human.
In conjunction with Colas (an infrastructure company in the UK), the Colorado DOT and Royal Truck and Equipment recently deployed the ATMA truck in a live work zone. Footage of the driverless truck in action was shared by CIG Public Relations and you can watch below: