“Driving a heavy commercial vehicle in an urban residential area with narrow streets and vulnerable road users naturally imposes major demands on safety, even when the vehicle’s speed doesn’t exceed a normal walking pace,” says Carl Johan Almqvist, traffic and product safety director at Volvo Trucks. “The refuse truck we are now testing continuously monitors its surroundings and immediately stops if an obstacle suddenly appears on the road.”
When the truck is used for the first time in a new area, it is driven manually, while the on-board system maps the route. The next time the truck is in the area, it knows which route to follow and which bins to empty. At the first stop with the automated system activated, the driver gets out and empties the bin as normal. On receiving the command, the truck then moves to the next bin. The driver walks with the truck and always has a full view of what’s happening in the direction of travel. A lot of research, testing and development remains before self-driving refuse trucks can become a reality. This project will continue until the end of 2017 and be followed by a full evaluation of the system.