Driverless trucks for highway work zones will soon be tested by Florida and other states. Hear how autonomous trucks using military technology can be safe.
Royal Truck And Equipment in Pennsylvania, and partner Micro Systems of Florida, have co-designed a truck that will operate without anyone at the wheel. The “Autonomous Truck Mounted Attenuator” is the safe answer to protecting road construction crews without risking driver injury.
The designers revealed the new driverless truck in August, 2015. Since then, many states in the US have contacted them about potential testing. In this podcast, Dan Clark describes the driverless truck, and the upcoming pilot program in Florida.
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Dan Clark: Driverless trucks! The state of Florida will soon be testing driverless trucks for use in highway work zones. More states are on tap to do the same. Hear the latest on driverless trucks in a moment.
Hello, I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, tackling health and safety hazards in today’s demanding industrial and construction worksites, compliments of Creative Safety Supply.
Jump over to creativesafetysupply.com for safety supplies. Use coupon code BIG10. It saves you 10 percent.
Road construction crews are protected by trucks with crash cushions. The crew is safe, but what about the driver? New technology means those trucks could be driverless trucks.
Trucks with crash cushions are called TMAs—Truck Mounted Attenuators. You’ve seen them in work zones. They have the big, lighted arrow board, with an extended apparatus on the back that collapses, accordion-style, on impact. Highway vehicles run into these TMAs almost every day. Luckily, the attenuator protects the driver. But they don’t reduce all impacts, and the TMA driver is not always safe.
So, here comes the ATMA, the Autonomous Truck Mounted Attenuator. This driverless, rolling crash barrier was co-developed by Royal Truck And Equipment in Pennsylvania. Royal announced in August that preliminary testing will start in December 2015 by Florida’s Department of Transportation. Since that announcement, Royal has been flooded. They tell The Safety Brief they’ve been contacted by many other states’ departments of transportation for a pilot program. They expect there will be at least one, if not multiple ATMA pilot programs happening throughout the country by the end of this year and the beginning of 2016.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The driverless truck uses a follow-the-leader technology that mimics the speed and turns of a lead vehicle. And it can be controlled remotely.
Florida-based Micro Systems is the co-developer of this ATMA. They originally designed this unmanned vehicle technology for military use with all kinds of GPS craziness. The Department of Defense employs driverless trucks in follow-the-leader convoys, as land mine sweepers and much more.
Well, there is a good reason to get these trucks into pilot programs. In 2013 there were 105 worker fatalities at road construction sites. Also, a study found that 45 percent of highway contractors had vehicles crash into their work zones in the past year.
We’ll keep an eye on the results from Florida and other states, and keep you posted on the progress of the pilot programs.
That’s all for this episode, Driverless Trucks In Road Construction Zones. Come back for more ways to stay safety compliant in today’s ever-changing landscape of safety requirements. I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, a service of Creative Safety Supply. Save 10percent off your entire order at creativesafetysupply.com with coupon code BIG10.
Driverless trucks images copyright 2015 Royal Truck & Equipment Inc. / All Rights Reserved
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