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Automated Arocs convoy on trial
Vehicle & Technology
Four Arocs Grounder models, all controlled by a single driver: autonomous driving could relieve strain on airports.
How is that even possible? Precisely staggered and maintained at exactly the same distance and speed, the four all-wheel-drive Arocs 2045 AS Grounder models move from left to right across the runway of the former Pferdsfeld airfield in Hunsrück. It's as if an invisible hand was wiping the runway clean. And the driver's seat in three of the trucks is empty! Just a single airport employee would be required to get the runway back operational in the shortest of times after heavy snowfall.
A huge advantage as, previously, the snow-clearing machines had to cope with numerous adverse conditions: bad visibility at night and in fog, but also the snow churned up by the vehicle driving in front. Plus, when it comes to driving in staggered formation, it's not always easy to maintain the distances required for a good snow-clearing result. If the snow is blowing strongly enough, even the runway lighting system can be adversely affected.
It's as if an invisible hand was wiping the runway clean. And the driver's seat in three of the trucks is empty!
Greater efficiency thanks to automated clearing machines.
That's why Daimler Trucks is now testing automatically operating snow-clearing trucks. An airport operator sits in the first vehicle and serves as the convoy leader, keeping a close eye on the entire convoy at all times and maintaining complete control over all vehicles.
Signals from a high-precision differential GPS are computed together with the maps stored in the control unit and serve as the truck's orientation. Thus, the lead truck simply follows its intended path and the others follow with a differential tolerance of maximum three centimetres!
Regardless of this, the convoy leader can, at any time, flexibly react and take control of the routing him/herself.
Innovative Remote Truck Interface (RTI).
In the four Arocs Grounder test vehicles, an innovative technology forms their beating heart – the new Remote Truck Interface (RTI). With this interface between the vehicle and the outside world, functions such as acceleration and shifting can be carried out by means of an external control unit and real-time data can be exchanged. All trucks of a convoy are fully networked via the RTI by means of telematics systems and drive autonomously, be that as the convoy leader or the following vehicles.
A multitude of operational possibilities for automated driving.
This technology's usability doesn't just restrict the vehicles to airport runways. For example, it can be used for precise manoeuvring in which the driver stands behind the vehicle to keep an eye on the entire surroundings. Or, just like at the airport, even in other non-public areas, such as mines or container ports.
Whether shifting snow or containers, with the automated Arocs convoy, Daimler Trucks has again confirmed its role as a technological leader and has provided an insight into the future use of commercial vehicles: greater comfort and reliability, whatever the job that needs doing.