Self-driving work zone vehicle deployed in Colorado
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has unveiled a work zone vehicle designed to advance safety for roadway maintenance crews. Customarily positioned behind road construction crews to protect workers from the traveling public, the goal of the Autonomous Impact Protection Vehicle (AIPV) is to increase work zone safety by removing the driver from a truck that is actually designed to be hit.
CDOT and its partners showcased the AIPV in action without a driver behind the wheel during a live roadway striping operation in Fort Collins, CO. As part of its RoadX program, CDOT and partners at Colas UK, Royal Truck & Equipment, and Kratos Defense and Security Solutions adapted military technology, which uses a rear-mounted attenuator (or crash cushion) to absorb or deflect vehicles that cross into work zones.
The AIPV is designed to mimic the position, speed, and direction of a lead vehicle that transmits a signal to the trailing driverless vehicle, ensuring the AIPV is always correctly positioned between roadway workers and live traffic. “Today’s demonstration proves that technology can take transportation safety to a new level and forever improve the way we work,” Shailen Bhatt, CDOT Executive Director, said.
CDOT’s partnership with Colas UK, Royal Truck & Equipment, and Kratos Defense was pivotal in deploying this technology. Colas, a private company that provides civil engineering, maintenance, and construction services in the United Kingdom, is testing the same technology for use in work zones, and is sharing test methods and lessons learned with CDOT. Royal Truck & Equipment built the AIPV using the latest technology, including what it says is the industry’s largest variable message board mounted to the truck. Kratos Defense designed the hardware and software needed to provide the driverless capability to the AIPV.
“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,” said Lee Rushbrooke, Colas CEO. “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.”
“The partnership opportunity between Colas Ltd and Colorado DOT that Royal Truck & Equipment has been given to launch this new autonomous technology is unparalleled,” said Rob Roy, President of Royal Truck & Equipment. “We know the autonomous impact protection vehicle will change the safety standards in this industry, and these passionate partners will help advance the cause.”
RoadX is CDOT’s vision and commitment to being a national leader in using innovative technology to create travel in Colorado that is free of crashes, injuries, and delays. To learn more about this venture to transform Colorado’s aging transportation system, visit roadx.codot.gov.