Not a load of garbage: Volvo's now testing driverless rubbish trucks

Rebecca Smith
Nobody need take the wheel
Nobody need take the wheel (Source: Volvo)

While many car and tech companies, have been focused on developing driverless cars, Volvo has also been testing out a slightly larger vehicle.

The Swedish car firm is trialling an autonomous rubbish truck, designed for use in cities. It has partnered with local waste management specialist Renova in a project to explore how automation "can contribute to enhanced traffic safety, improved working conditions, and lower environmental impact".

Read more: Uber's driverless cars hitting roads within weeks after $300m Volvo tie-up

The truck features automatic control of steering, gear changing and speed.

Check it out in action:

"Driving a heavy commercial vehicle in an urban residential area with narrow streets and vulnerable road users naturally imposes major demands on safety, even when the vehicle's speed doesn't exceed a normal walking pace," said Carl Johan Almqvist, traffic and product safety director, Volvo Trucks.

The refuse truck we are now testing continuously monitors its surroundings and immediately stops if an obstacle suddenly appears on the road.

During testing, the first time the automated truck is used in a new area, it is driven manually while the on-board system monitors and maps the route with the help of sensors and GPS. The next time the truck enters the same area, it "knows" which route to follow and at which bins it has to stop.

Volvo said that while the technical scope already exists, much research, testing and development remains "before self-driving refuse trucks can become a reality".

The joint project with Renova will run until the end of the year and then followed by a thorough evaluation of functionality, safety and how the type of vehicle is received by drivers, as well as other road users and local residents.

It marks the latest driverless push for the firm, which has announced a $300m joint venture with Uber on driverless cars last year.

The Swedish firm has also announced it is starting vehicle assembly operations in India this year, to drive growth in the "fast-expanding premium car segment in India".

It comes on the same day that GM announced it was reversing out of India, and will stop selling vehicles there by the end of the year.

Read more: General Motors reverses out of India as it plans to stop selling cars there

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