Autonomous vehicles are designed and programmed to carry passengers and/or cargo from point A to point B. New and the first of its kind, autonomous technology has been created to disrupt cars and trucks traveling between those two points. To be more precise, the vehicle was made to get between an out-of-control driver and a construction work crew ahead, all on its own.
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The Colorado Department of Transportation has begun using the Autonomous Impact Protection Vehicle (AIPV) to improve safety for roadway construction crews. As part of its RoadX program, CDOT and partners at Colas UK, Royal Truck & Equipment, and Kratos Defense and Security Solutions adapted military technology for use in the AIPV that uses a rear-mounted attenuator (or crash cushion) to absorb or deflect vehicles that cross into work zones.
Typically, some sort of vehicle with a driver is placed in front of a highway work crew to protect them from oncoming traffic.
“Just in the last four years, there have been 26 incidents where a member of the traveling public struck a CDOT impact protection vehicle—that’s almost seven per year,” said Shailen Bhatt, CDOT Executive Director. “This is a dangerously high number when you consider that in some instances, a CDOT employee is sitting in the driver’s seat of the vehicle that was hit.”
The AIPV takes the driver out of the truck and out of harm’s way while the truck continues to shield the working construction crew.
According to CDOT, between 2000 and 2014, Colorado has had 21,898 crashes and 171 fatalities in work zones. According to the Federal Highway Administration, in work zones in 2015, there was a crash every 5.4 minutes, 70 crash-related injuries every day, and 12 crash-related fatalities every week.