Science 3 min read

Self-driving Truck From Volvo's 'Drive Me' Works With Trash Collectors

Renova | Volvo

Renova | Volvo

In cooperation between Volvo Trucks and Renova, a driverless garbage truck is now being tested in urban environments before deployment in Sweden.

Volvo’s large-scale research project in autonomous driving technology, Drive Me, is already seeing its first fruits as the driverless Volvo XC90 will be tested by ordinary people during 2017. In addition to driverless cars – a fully-autonomous car to be delivered by – is also targeting utilitarian vehicles like garbage trucks.

Volvo will be the first to automate garbage trucks.Click To Tweet

Drive Me: Self-Driving Garbage Truck That Follows Workers Like a Trained pet

Volvo Trucks has announced the testing of a driverless garbage truck, in collaboration with Renova, a Swedish waste-management company.

Self-driving garbage trucks wouldn’t only ease the human side of the job, but would also increase road safety, improve work conditions, and reduce environmental impact.

Following a pre-programmed route, the truck can go between garbage bin pick-up points. As the truck is not fully-automated, it needs one operator to hit the “push” button to get to the next point on the street and load the bin on the deck. The driver doesn’t have to get in and out of the truck as it will follow them closely. The human crew will have total visibility as they walk ahead of the vehicle.

Sensors continuously monitor the surroundings; the truck stops immediately once it detects a sudden obstacle or a moving object or person crossing the road.

Built on an environmentally sustainable design, the truck’s speed, transmission, and steering are optimized for low fuel consumption and carbon footprint.

The testing phase for the Drive Me trucks will continue throughout 2017, and further development will be needed before autonomous garbage trucks can become a common view in Sweden streets.

Robot Trash Collectors

Renova has been testing new technical solutions in waste management and, to that end, has partnered with automotive manufacturers, fuel suppliers and universities to develop and implement new solutions. In 2015, it became the first company with a fossil-fuel-free fleet of vehicles.

Before the self-driving garbage truck, Renova and Volvo are already partners in the project ROAR, (Robot-Based Autonomous Refuse Handling), along with three universities: Chalmers University of Technology, Mälardalen University College, and Pennsylvania State University.

Under the supervision of the truck’s driver, the robot can collect and empty garbage bins, sparing trash collectors the heavy lifting.

Ideally, these robots would form a perfect tandem with Volvo’s driverless garbage trucks to make the automation of garbage collection a reality.

Garbage handlers shouldn’t worry, though, as there will still be many functions for humans to perform in waste management.

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Zayan Guedim

Trilingual poet, investigative journalist, and novelist. Zed loves tackling the big existential questions and all-things quantum.

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