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Self-driving work zone vehicles enhance safety

April 24, 2019  - By
Screenshot: Kratos Defense & Security Solutions/Royal Truck & Equipment ATMA brochure

Screenshot: Kratos Defense & Security Solutions/Royal Truck & Equipment ATMA brochure

Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, a developer of advanced unmanned system technologies, has teamed with Royal Truck & Equipment, which builds Truck Mounted Attenuator (TMA) vehicles and highway safety systems, to deploy the Autonomous Truck Mounted Attenuator (ATMA), a self-driving work zone vehicle. The ATMA is an autonomous vehicle that uses driverless technology.

According to the company, highway workers are routinely placed in high-risk situations, but are at especially high risk when assigned to drive a TMA vehicle. The TMA vehicle, also known as an Impact Protection Vehicle, is a truck that follows behind slow moving highway maintenance vehicles as a human-driven mobile crash barrier absorbing the impact of traffic accidentally entering the work zone.

“Driving a TMA is extremely dangerous and drivers are at serious risk of lifelong injury, painful rehabilitation and even death,” said Maynard Factor, business development director at Kratos Defense. “To eliminate this dangerous assignment, Kratos Defense developed the Autonomous TMA (ATMA) by retrofitting standard TMA vehicles with driverless technology to enable unmanned operation.”

The first ATMA systems were deployed in 2017 and have since then been deployed across the United States and Europe. The unmanned ATMA operates in a multi-vehicle leader/follower configuration with a human driven highway maintenance vehicle, the companies said. In the leader/follower configuration, the system enables the maintenance vehicle (leader) to transmit navigation data via encrypted V2V communications to the ATMA (follower). From there, the ATMA uses the data to follow the leader, unmanned, as it travels along the route.

The ATMA systems features component redundancy, an active safety system, high accuracy GPS/GPS-denied navigation, encrypted V2V communications, and multi-modal front and side-view obstacle detection, the companies added. It also includes a user interface that provides system feedback, situational awareness, multi-camera views and operator controls.

“Highways are becoming increasingly dangerous due to distracted drivers texting, following too closely, falling asleep, etc., and work zone fatalities from traffic-related crashes average in the hundreds per year,” Factor said. “Our main goal in developing the ATMA was to increase worker safety by removing them from behind the wheel of a vehicle deployed for the sole purpose of operating as a crash barrier.”

Kratos Defense & Security Solutions will be exhibiting at AUVSI’s Xponential 2019 at booth #226.

About the Author: Allison Kral

Allison Kral is the former digital media manager for North Coast Media (NCM). She completed her undergraduate degree at Ohio University where she received a Bachelor of Science in magazine journalism from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. She works across a number of digital platforms, which include creating e-newsletters, writing articles and posting across social media sites. She also creates content for NCM's Pit & Quarry magazine, Portable Plants magazine and Geospatial Solutions. Her understanding of the ever-changing digital media world allows her to quickly grasp what a target audience desires and create content that is appealing and relevant for any client across any platform.