World’s first autonomous road works safety vehicle is demonstrated

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Colas, the UK highway services provider and subsidiary of the French Colas Group, in partnership with USA companies Royal Truck and Equipment (RT&E) and Micro Systems Inc. (MSI), has developed the world’s first Autonomous Impact Protection Vehicle (AIPV) that has been designed to protect the lives of road workers.

The aim of introducing 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 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 occur.

Fitted with an electro-mechanical applique kit and fully integrated sensor suite, the Autonomous IPV uses 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 to use the data to follow the exact path and speed of the Leader 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 global highways industry.

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 USA. The AIPV is now being used in live on-site trials by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).

“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,” said Colas CEO Lee Rushbrooke. “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.”

Robb Roy, president of RT&E, commented, “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.”

To view a video of the AIPV demonstration, click here.

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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