Volvo Testing Autonomous Garbage Trucks in Sweden
Truck designed for one-man operation
It’s believed by many that the first transportation sector to see large-scale deployment of autonomous and self-driving technologies may be commercial trucks. The reason is primarily economic. If the human manpower can be reduced, that means less downtime and more profits for the operators. The latest work truck sector to undergo autonomous technology testing is waste collection. Volvo Trucks is partnering with Swedish waste collection company Renova in testing a fleet of self-driving garbage trucks. The technology used in the autonomous garbage truck is based on learnings from automated mining trucks used in northern Sweden.
The trucks initially go through a “learning” stage where they’re driven by a human operator. The system logs the route, the GPS coordinates and the stops to memorize the route. The second time through the route, the truck can drive autonomously with prompts from a human operator. Interestingly, when in autonomous mode, the truck drives in reverse. The reason for this is reduced fatigue on the human operator, allowing them to stay toward the back of the truck, where they can stage the garbage cans without having to go back up to the cab each time.
The trial period will continue through the end of 2017, and will continue to undergo an evaluation of functionality, safety and driver and community acceptance. Other potential applications of autonomous technology in these types of trucks could be cargo terminals, and other pre-determined routes.
Source: Volvo Trucks