Volvo Group, Goteborg, Sweden, together with Renova, a waste management company headquartered in Goteborg, is testing an autonomous refuse truck that has the potential to be used across the urban environment. The project explores how automation can contribute to enhanced traffic safety, improved working conditions and lower environmental impact.
"There is amazing potential to transform the swift pace of technical developments in automation into practical benefits for customers and, more broadly, society in general. Our self-driving refuse truck is leading the way in this field globally, and one of several exciting autonomous innovations we are working with right now," says Lars Stenqvist, chief technology officer, Volvo Group.
Volvo Group's autonomous refuse truck is designed to make the driving safer in built-up areas, not least when reversing. Sensors are designed to continuously monitor the vehicle's vicinity and the truck is designed to stop immediately if an obstacle suddenly appears in its path. The route is preprogrammed and the truck is designed to drive itself from one container to the next. The driver, who walks ahead of the reversing vehicle, can focus on refuse collection and does not have to climb into and out of the cab every time the truck moves to a new bin.
"One important benefit of the new technology is a reduction in the risk of occupational injuries, such as wear in knee joints – otherwise a common ailment among staff working with refuse collection," explains Stenqvist.
The joint project with Renova will continue until the end of 2017. The autonomous truck currently being tested is fitted with a sensor system for identification, navigation and monitoring of the vehicle's vicinity.