Autonomous Trucking

Volvo demonstrates autonomous refuse truck in Brussels

Volvo recently held a demonstration of its autonomous refuse truck.

An automated refuse collection vehicle (RCV) was officially launched at the Volvo Innovation Summit in Brussels, Belgium, by the Volvo Truck Corporation, Collection & Handling magazine reported. Volvo’s Autonomous Refuse Truck showed summit attendees the self-driving vehicle.

Volvo’s “autonomous and automated driving” development division confirmed through its leader, Hayder Wokil, that the feature was already being developed with Volvo trucks servicing the agricultural and construction sector. There was even comparison with the autopilot technology used in Brazil that “enables the trucks to follow in exactly the same tracks as the harvester in sugar cane fields, thus damaging less of the crop.”

The RCV presented follows the “driver” (who is actually the garbage bin collector) with high-visibility workwear. The collector walks along the path of bins and the truck follows.

In effect, the demonstration successfully displayed the following:

  • Truck follows the bin collector treading the scheduled trail.
  • Truck stops once the bin collector stops to pick up the bin for emptying in the refuse truck.
  • Truck reverses gears to move closer to the bin collector’s spot in time for the former to place the container to the bin lifter at the back of the truck.
  • Truck empties the contents of the bin first before lowering the bin lifter for the bin collector to return the container to its original spot.
  • If a spot has more than one container, the process is repeated until all bins are emptied in the Autonomous Refuse Truck.

Volvo has developed autonomous trucks fit to use in mines and quarries as well, the same report noted. As mining involves blasting areas, sending an unmanned but automated truck speeds up operations and improves productivity.

Getting into the self-driving bandwagon also served as an opportunity for companies transacting with Volvo to save on fuel costs, optimize engine efficiency and reduce wear-and-tear in stop-and-go applications.

The Volvo FM330 RCV chassis uses four sensors found at every corner of the chassis to determine its path. It can sense if it is getting too close to objects and will stop itself. There is a “small console which contains a manual override control to stop the vehicle in an emergency.”

“With the autonomous technology, the RCV follows the driver from house to house without the need to get in and out of the cab between each lift,” Wokil said. “When it comes to fine-tuning the solutions, we want to involve the customer. It is the customer who is the expert in their respective industry.”

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