Volvo Group announced today that it has partnered with Swedish waste and recycling company Renova to test a self-driving refuse truck.
In a video released by Volvo (see below), the truck moves slowly in reverse and follows its driver as he walks through an urban neighborhood shown with street-parked cars and kids playing with an elusive ball.
Volvo reports that the autonomous truck project will explore how automation can offer improved traffic safety, better 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,” says Lars Stenqvist, chief technology officer, Volvo Group.
“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.”
Volvo Group’s autonomous refuse truck is designed to make refuse collection safer in urban areas. Sensors continuously monitor the vehicle’s vicinity and the truck stops immediately if an obstacle suddenly appears in its path.
Once placed into autonomous mode by the driver, the truck follows a pre-programmed route and drives itself in reverse from one collection bin to the next. The driver, who walks ahead of the reversing vehicle, can focus on grabbing bins and does not have to climb in and out of the cab at every stop.
“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 autonomous truck also offers environmental benefits. Gear shifting, steering and speed are constantly optimized for low fuel consumption and emissions.
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. Most of this technology is also used in the autonomous truck for mining operations that Volvo Group unveiled in 2016. That self-driving truck is undergoing tests in the Kristineberg Mine in northern Sweden.