The Autonomous Impact Protection Vehicle or “AIPV” also known as Autonomous Truck Mounted Attenuator or “ATMA” is the next generation of driverless technology in roadway construction work zone safety. Developed in partnership with Royal Truck and Equipment based out of Coopersburg, PA, the AIPV/ATMA is an automated version of a standard Impact Protection Vehicle (IPV) or Truck Mounted Attenuator (TMA) vehicle. A IPV/TMA vehicle is deployed as a human-driven mobile crash barrier intended to absorb the impact of a high (or low) speed crash, protecting roadside workers and equipment from an errant vehicle.
The AIPV/ATMA has been outfitted with the Micro Systems Multi-Platform Appliqué Kit (M-PAK) to mobilize the vehicle in a “Leader/Follower” configuration. The Leader/Follower configuration enables manned and unmanned vehicles to perform cooperatively in multi-vehicle in-line formation. The M-PAK system and Leader/Follower technology was originally developed by Micro Systems for the Department of Defense to automate existing fleets of resupply vehicles (i.e. M915 Line Haul Truck, Palletized Load System (PLS), Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV), Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT), etc.) to support Automated Convoy and Leader/Follower operations reducing the number of warfighters needed to support dangerous Forward Operating Base (FOB) resupply efforts. In the case of the AIPV/ATMA, the IPV/TMA vehicle is automated and a driver is eliminated from the unsafe working environment of driving a vehicle designed to be a crash barrier.
The utilization of a IPV/TMA vehicle is similar to military resupply operations in that the IPV/TMA essentially follows another vehicle such as a road striping system. During the AIPV/ATMA Leader/Follower operation, the M-PAK system uses velocity, heading, and position information of the Leader Vehicle and transmits that information in packets of data called “eCrumbs” to the unmanned AIPV/ATMA Follower vehicle. The transmitted eCrumbs allow the AIPV/ATMA to know precise position, speed, and direction of the Leader vehicle as it travels along its intended route. There is also an active safety system integrated in the AIPV/ATMA that provides multiple ways of ensure safe and efficient operation. Additional sensors can also be added to the AIPV/ATMA providing even greater level of capability to the system operation.