Safer Highways UK | The Automated IPV
Following on from his presentation at last year’s SH conference and the subsequent article which he wrote in SH magazine, we talk to Phill Beaumont, Operations Delivery & Compliance Manager at Colas on the progress his organisation is making with the AIPV project.
Over the course of 2018 we, alongside our partners at Kratos (Micro Systems Inc.) have continued to evolve the Colas AIPV from testing/development stage to full live trials on the SRN which we have targeted to start in January 2019.
Development began with an open day at the Goodwood motor racing circuit on the 20th February where invited guests from the Highways England board of Regional Directors, Highways England communication team, CCAV, members of the TM Cat Man Board, as well as representatives from TRL, were given the opportunity to sit in both the Leader and Follower vehicles around the circuit to see first-hand how the system works.
As well as giving the wider industry and the principal client an insight into the work we have carried out to date, the day also allowed Colas engineers the opportunity to gather test data from both vehicles in a series of scenarios designed to prove the effectiveness of the emergency stop (E-Stop) systems and connectivity of the two vehicles, primarily because we needed to gather data on how the follower vehicle would behave under these conditions, and also the distance and time taken by the vehicle to stop, which had to match or better that of the vehicles currently being used in the US.
This was a key test for the Colas AIPV as, whilst we use similar technology, UK TM vehicles are significantly larger than their US counterparts (we operate >20t whereas TM vehicles in the US are typically <10t).The results were positive, with the UK spec vehicle stopping in shorter distance and time when compared to the US vehicles travelling at the same speed.
The team are now focused on the development of a GD04 safety risk assessment designed to explore the risks of using the Colas AIPV without the safety driver, as opposed to the current condition where the vehicle has a driver in the vehicle at all times.
This exercise will ultimately produce a report that will include the need to demonstrate we have addressed cyber security risks, trained the Colas TM crews on operation of the AIPV (eg. the roles of the drivers of the Leader vehicle, the driver of the Follower vehicle and operation of the control systems) and that we have the required level of insurance in place – all actions we’re currently working on.
This will allow us and Highways England to present a robust, proven case for the use of the AIPV in a monitored roll-out, and allow live trailing on the network from January 2019 with the eventual aim being to remove our workforce from risk or harm.
Working with stakeholder experts from Highways England and the systems and control developers in the US, we are also looking at how we can further enhance the AIPV, post live trails, and widen the use of these or similar systems to other vehicles and activities.