Volvo Trucks has joined focus with Renova to begin testing an autonomous garbage truck in Sweden.
Based on the Volvo FM 330, the autonomous truck uses GPS and lidar sensors for mapping, positioning, and scanning of the area around the vehicle.
The first time the truck travels to a new area, it is driven manually so the route can be mapped and recorded. When the truck returns to the location, it knows which route to follow and which houses to stop at.
When the garbage truck is making its first pickup, the waste management employee exits the cab, collects the garbage can, and empties it as usual. The employee then hits a button on the truck, signaling it to travel to the next stop.
The truck drives in reverse so the employee can remain close to the compactor and have a full view of what’s happening when the truck is moving. While this would be complicated for a human to do, Volvo says with autonomous technology “driving is equally safe no matter the direction in which the vehicle is moving.”
The autonomous garbage truck promises several advantages including reduced employee fatigue as well as lower fuel consumption and emissions as the automated system optimizes gear changes and speed.
The testing phase will continue until the end of the year and be followed by an “extremely thorough evaluation of functionality, safety and, not least, how well this type of vehicle is accepted by drivers, other road users and local residents.” Volvo Trucks is optimistic about the results but noted autonomous trucks will likely be first introduced in areas where they operate in confined locations such as mines and cargo terminals.