Autonomous Crash Truck
At The Miller Group, the safety and well-being of our people are our highest priorities. Miller Maintenance is one of the largest contractors in Ontario and operates over 30 vehicles with a truck-mounted attenuator (TMA) on the 400 series highways each month. These ‘crash trucks’ perform an essential safety function as they are used on highways where construction or maintenance work is being carried out and moving traffic is present on adjacent lanes.
It is not uncommon for a vehicle to stray into a highway closure, often at high speed and often resulting in a dangerous collision. The presence of the TMA truck, with its energy-absorbing attenuator, often saves the lives of the stray vehicle’s occupants and the work crew that the TMA truck is protecting. By removing the driver, Miller Group is able to reduce the likelihood of a worker being injured should the crash truck be stuck by a second vehicle.
Miller was approached by Almon Equipment Ltd. and enthusiastically agreed to participate in a program to develop and test an autonomous ‘crash truck.’ Almon developed the autonomous truck using technology developed in Ontario with funding support from the Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN) AV R&D Partnership Fund. The new technology is a retrofit package for the automation of existing trucks. Support from AVIN, combined with Almon’s private funding, comprised a project budget of around $1 million. Almon worked with project partners X‑Matik to retrofit a 2020 Peterbilt truck with actuators and sensors, and the University of Waterloo Mechatronic Vehicle Systems Lab to develop the algorithms needed to enable autonomous operation.
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