Colas and partners launch first autonomous road safety vehicle
Colas in partnership with US companies Royal Truck and Equipment (RT&E) and Micro Systems Inc. (MSI) have developed the world’s first Autonomous Impact Protection Vehicle (AIPV) for use on the World’s highways to protect the lives of road workers. Today’s launch sees the AIPV being used live onsite in Colorado, United States.
The introduction of autonomous technology in an IPV is to remove the requirement of a driver in a vehicle that has been designed to be used as a mobile crash barrier protecting road workers and equipment from errant vehicles on the world’s busy highways. Although considerable advances have been made in recent years to lower the risk of fatalities and accidents through various industry incentives, incidents involving road workers still happen.
Fitted with an electro-mechanical applique kit and fully integrated sensor suite, the Autonomous IPV utilizes a Leader/Follower capability that enables the unmanned AIPV to follow a driver operated Leader Vehicle. Navigation data that includes vehicle speed and heading is transmitted from the Leader vehicle to the Follower vehicle enabling the Follower vehicle to use the data to follow the exact path and speed of the Leader vehicle at each point along the route. Initially deployed for use in the US Military, the drone technology has been tailored by RT&E and MSI for use in the highways industry.
Colas CEO, Lee Rushbrooke said: “We are dedicated to advancing health and safety issues and will continue to invest in cutting-edge research and development projects to benefit our employees, clients and the wider industry. We are extremely excited about this new technology and are looking forward to giving this a global reach to save lives of road workers, across the world”
Engineers from Colas, RT&E and MSI have worked constantly together to develop, monitor and trial the system to ensure the highest possible performance. To date, over 200 hours of rigorous and successful testing and training has been completed prior to the vehicle being declared ready for use on live worksites in the US.
Robb Roy, President of Royal Truck and Equipment said; “Colas’ innovative approach to health and safety is precisely why we are delighted to be working with them on this cutting-edge project in Europe. There is no doubt that this technology has the potential to change the way the industry operates forever”.
Mike Wilson, Executive Director for Safety, Engineering and Standards at Highways England commented: “Our number one imperative is safety and we believe no one should be harmed when travelling or working on our road network.
“We welcome this innovative work by Colas which, through the use of connected and autonomous vehicle technology, has the potential to help the sector address the risks road workers face on a daily basis.”