Colas is beginning the building and trialling of the first autonomous Impact Protection Vehicle (IPV) in the United Kingdom, to increase the safety of roadworkers on the country’s roads.
It says that the use of an Autonomous system in an IPV would remove the need for a driver to be seated in what is a potentially dangerous place to be, given that in the five-year period to 2011, there were 149 collisions with IPVs reported on the Highways England network alone.
Fitted with an electro-mechanical system and fully integrated sensor suite, the Autonomous IPV has a Leader/Follower capability that allows it to follow a lead vehicle, unmanned. Colas says GPS position data is transmitted from the Leader vehicle to the Follower vehicle, which uses the data to follow the exact path and speed of the Leader vehicle at each point along a route.
The technology was initially deployed for use in the US Military, with the drone technology tailored for the highways industry by Colas’s partners on the project, the American firms Royal Truck and Equipment and Micro Systems.
The companies say a vigorous testing and training regime is in place and the new vehicle will be trialled on a live worksite under closely controlled conditions. In addition, all data collected during this period will be analysed and incorporated into the roll out of future vehicles not just in the UK, but also across Europe.
Dennis Gregg, Colas Associate Director, said, “As a company that offers traffic management to clients across the UK, we are always looking for new and innovative ways to improve the safety of both our operatives and the road using public. By collaborating with these two US companies, we strongly believe that we are on the brink of something which could have a huge positive impact on the industry at large.”
Robert Roy, President of Royal Truck and Equipment added,“Colas’ innovative approach to health and safety is precisely why we are delighted to be working with them on this cutting-edge project in Europe. There is no doubt that this technology has the potential to change the way the industry operates forever.”