Volvo Trucks and Ren­ova test au­tonomous refuse truck

Swedish waste man­age­ment com­pany Ren­ova, and Volvo Trucks, are test­ing an au­tonomous refuse truck with par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to safety.

Commercial Vehicle - - WHAT'S INSIDE - Team CV

Swedish waste man­age­ment com­pany Ren­ova, and Volvo Trucks, are test­ing an au­tonomous refuse truck with par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to safety.

Refuse trucks op­er­ate in cities and towns. Their op­er­at­ing cy­cle is typ­i­cally ur­ban, and with al­most a stop at ev­ery house­hold to col­lect refuse. The stop-go op­er­at­ing cy­cle of a refuse trucks leads to an amount of fuel wastage as well as in­creases the amount of ex­haust gases the truck emits. That is not the only is­sue with refuse trucks. Th­ese trucks also pose a chal­lenge to the driver with their duty cy­cle. The stopgo op­er­a­tion of­ten re­sults in driver fa­tigue, and es­pe­cially in an ur­ban en­vi­ron­ment. Mak­ing a per­fect can­di­date for al­ter­nate fuel tech­nolo­gies, like buses, refuse trucks have also been a sub­ject of re­search for some time now. The ef­fect of their op­er­at­ing cy­cle on the driver is also prompt­ing com­pa­nies that build, and op­er­ate refuse trucks, to look at mak­ing it bet­ter and ef­fi­cient. It does not come as a sur­prise there­fore, that a Swedish waste man­age­ment com­pany, Ren­ova, and Volvo Trucks, are cur­rently test­ing an au­tonomous refuse truck

with par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to safety. The two are re­search­ing on how au­to­mated ve­hi­cles can con­trib­ute to safer, more ef­fi­cient refuse han­dling and cre­ate a bet­ter work­ing en­vi­ron­ment for driv­ers. The au­to­mated sys­tems be­ing tested are in prin­ci­ple the same as those fit­ted to the au­tonomous Volvo truck op­er­at­ing in the Kristineberg Mine in north­ern Swe­den since au­tumn 2016.

Ac­cord­ing to Carl Jo­han Almqvist, Traf­fic & Prod­uct Safety Di­rec­tor, Volvo Trucks, that the au­to­mated refuse truck is driven man­u­ally in a new area for the first time with an on-board sys­tem con­stantly mon­i­tor­ing and map­ping the route with the help of sen­sors and GPS tech­nol­ogy. “The next time the truck en­ters the same area, it knows ex­actly which route to fol­low and at which bins it has to stop,” he ex­pressed. Stat­ing the rea­son be­hind why his com­pany em­barked on this ex­er­cise, Almqvist men­tioned, “Driv­ing a heavy com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle in an ur­ban res­i­den­tial area with nar­row streets and vul­ner­a­ble road users im­poses ma­jor de­mands on safety, even when the ve­hi­cle’s speed doesn’t ex­ceed a nor­mal walk­ing pace. The refuse truck we are now test­ing con­tin­u­ously mon­i­tors its sur­round­ings and im­me­di­ately stops if an ob­sta­cle sud­denly ap­pears on the road. The au­to­mate sys­tem, at the same time, cre­ates bet­ter pre­req­ui­sites for the driver to keep a watch­ful eye on ev­ery­thing that hap­pens near the truck.” At the first stop with the au­to­mated sys­tem ac­ti­vated, the driver climbs out of the cab, goes to the rear of the truck, brings out the wheelie-bin and emp­ties it ex­actly the way the job is done to­day by op­er­at­ing the rel­e­vant con­trols. When the op­er­a­tion is com­pleted, the truck au­to­mat­i­cally re­verses to the next bin upon re­ceiv­ing the driver’s com­mand. The driver walks the very same route that the truck takes and thus al­ways has full view of what’s hap­pen­ing in the di­rec­tion of travel.

An odd bit is the truck re­vers­ing. It is un­heard of that a refuse truck re­verses as it goes about pick­ing up refuse at ev­ery door step al­most. There’s a rea­son why this refuse truck re­verse from one bin to the other, said Hans Zachris­son, Strate­gic De­vel­op­ment Man­ager, Ren­ova. He stated, “By re­vers­ing the truck, the driver can con­stantly re­main close to the com­pactor unit in­stead of hav­ing to re­peat­edly walk be­tween the rear and the cab ev­ery time the truck is on the move. And since the driver doesn’t have to climb in and out of the cab at ev­ery start and stop, there’s less risk of work re­lated in­juries such as strain on the knees and other joints.” Re­vers­ing is oth­er­wise a fairly risky ma­noeu­vre as the driver may find it dif­fi­cult to see who or what is mov­ing be­hind the ve­hi­cle, even if it is fit­ted with a cam­era. In cer­tain ar­eas it is not al­lowed to re­verse a heavy com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle for safety rea­sons, in oth­ers it is a re­quire­ment that a co-driver must stand be­hind the truck to en­sure that the road is clear be­fore the ve­hi­cle re­verses. In this case, the truck – Volvo FM, is de­signed to elim­i­nate th­ese is­sues. Sen­sors mon­i­tor the area all around the refuse truck, no mat­ter the di­rec­tion in which the ve­hi­cle is mov­ing.

If a car or any other ob­sta­cle is block­ing the street, the refuse truck will au­to­mat­i­cally drive around it pro­vided there is enough space. The au­to­mated sys­tems, ac­cord­ing to Almqvist, op­ti­mise gear changes, steer­ing and speed, fuel con­sump­tion, and re­duces emis­sions. Said Almqvist, “The tech­ni­cal scope al­ready ex­ists. How­ever, a lot of re­search, test­ing and de­vel­op­ment re­mains be­fore self-driv­ing refuse trucks can be­come a re­al­ity.” The cur­rent project will con­tinue un­til the end of 2017. It will be fol­lowed by an ex­tremely thor­ough eval­u­a­tion of func­tion­al­ity, safety, and how well this type of a ve­hi­cle is ac­cepted by driv­ers, other road users and lo­cal res­i­dents. “Ve­hi­cles with vary­ing de­grees of au­to­ma­tion will prob­a­bly be in­tro­duced ear­lier in other ap­pli­ca­tions, where trans­port as­sign­ments take place within strictly con­fined ar­eas such as mines and cargo terminals,” signed off Almqvist.

⇩ By re­vers­ing the truck, the driver can re­main close to the com­pactor unit in­stead of hav­ing to re­peat­edly walk be­tween the rear and the cab ev­ery time the truck is on the move.

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