Following successful trials last year, the three partners in the pilot project have entered into a strategic teaming agreement to support the nationwide deployment in the UK of an autonomous vehicle system to protect workers in highway work zones.
The Unmanned Systems Division (USD) of Kratos Defense & Security Solutions Inc. has entered into a strategic partnership with another USA-based company, Royal Truck & Equipment (RT&E), a leading truck equipment up-fitter, and Colas., one of the UK’s civil engineering contractors, which specializes in the design, construction and maintenance of roadways, tunnels and bridges. The three partners will now work toward the nationwide deployment of the unmanned Autonomous Impact Protection Vehicle (AIPV) system on the UK’s highway network.
The world’s first AIPV was deployed by the Kratos/Colas/Royal team in the UK in August 2017, and was immediately recognized as a game-changing innovation to increase safety for workers on roadway operations. At the same time, the AIPV was also trialled by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) in the USA, where the vehicle is known as an Autonomous Truck Mounted Attenuator (ATMA).
The AIPV/ATMA uses driverless technology, developed by Kratos for national security-related applications, to increase safety in the roadside construction operations by eliminating the need for a human to drive a required safety vehicle, called an Impact Protection Vehicle (IPV). A conventional IPV is designed as a mobile crash barrier to protect workers and equipment in the work zone.
The Kratos system converts the IPV into a driverless AIPV, removing the driver from the dangerous task of driving a vehicle designed to be crashed into by vehicles as large as cargo transport trucks.
The AIPV uses an autonomous Leader/Follower system that allows the unmanned vehicle to follow a driver-operated lead vehicle. The new formal alliance is an important step in facilitating efforts to move toward nationwide UK deployment of the AIPV as standard equipment to support road construction operations.
The team will ensure that the AIPV aligns with in-country regulations, and will contribute to the promotion of the system to ensure that stakeholders are aware of the critical importance of this innovative safety system.
“We, Colas and Royal are all leaders in our respective industries. We are collectively committed to making the roadway work zone a safer environment for workers,” noted Steve Fendley, president of Kratos USD.
“By utilizing our unmanned systems technology, integrated with Royal’s IPVs, and leveraging Colas’ experience in roadway operations, greatly improved safety can be achieved through this strategic partnership and the systems we will provide.
“We are extremely proud that the AIPV is being used for highway safety in the UK. We fully expect that this unmanned technology we have developed and deployed will be able to save lives in the UK, the USA, and in many locations as we expand throughout the world.”