Volvo Trucks is testing an autonomous garbage truck in partnership with Swedish waste management company Renova. The vehicle can maneuver through the streets on its own while a worker walks alongside it collecting garbage bins that are then emptied.
When the truck is used in a new area for the first time, it is driven manually through the route in order to map it with the help of sensors and GPS. Afterward, the truck would know exactly where it has to drive each day.
When the garbage truck gets to its first stop, the driver exits the vehicle and turns on the autonomous mode. The truck then automatically reverses to the next bin upon the driver’s command. It is constantly monitoring the area around it for safety and will come to a stop if an obstacle appears on the road.
You’re probably wondering why the truck is reversing instead of just driving forward like it normally does, right? The reason, according to Volvo Trucks, is that “by reversing the truck, the worker can remain close to the compactor unit at all times and doesn’t need to walk between the rear and the cab every time the truck is on the move.”
Only one autonomous garbage truck is currently being tested by Volvo — in Sweden. The testing period will continue until the end of 2017 when a safety and functionality evaluation will take place.