The highways maintenance company Colas has launched what it claims to be the world’s first ‘autonomous impact protection vehicle’ (AIPV), designed to reduce the risk of death and injury to road workers.
The vehicle, developed in partnership with two companies in the US, removes the need for a driver, as well as acting as a mobile crash barrier to protect other road workers.
Colas says its engineers have worked with their US counterparts to develop, monitor and trial the system to ensure the highest possible performance. With more than 200 hours of testing carried out, the vehicle has now been declared ready for use on live work sites in the US.
Highways England has welcomed Colas’ ‘innovative work’, saying that the technology has ‘the potential to help the sector address the risks road workers face on a daily basis’.
The AIPV uses a ‘leader/follower’ capability that enables the unmanned vehicle to follow a driver operated lead vehicle. Navigation data, including speed and direction, is transmitted from the lead vehicle to the AIPV, enabling it to follow the exact path and speed of the lead vehicle.
Lee Rushbrooke, Colas CEO, said: “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.
“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.”
Mike Wilson, executive director for safety, engineering and standards at Highways England, said: “Our number one imperative is safety and we believe no one should be harmed when travelling or working on our road network.
“We welcome this innovative work by Colas which, through the use of connected and autonomous vehicle technology, has the potential to help the sector address the risks road workers face on a daily basis.”
Category: Vehicles & technology.