In its latest self-driving vehicle project, the Volvo Group, together with Swedish waste specialist Renova, is testing the potential of deploying autonomous garbage trucks in urban environments.

The waste compaction vehicle is designed to make waste collection operations in built-up areas safer, by automating the movement of such vehicles down a street, and easier for its operators, by allowing its drivers to remain disembarked as they collect and deliver waste bins to the vehicle.

“One important benefit of the new technology is a reduction in the risk of occupational injuries, such as wear in knee joints – otherwise a common ailment among staff working with refuse collection,” explained Lars Stenqvist, chief technology officer for the Volvo Group.

“There is amazing potential for the transformation of technical developments in automation into practical benefits for customers. Our self-driving refuse truck is one of several exciting autonomous innovations we are working with right now, and one way in which we are pioneering in this field.”

The autonomous waste disposal truck also boosts safety with a suite of proximity sensors that monitor the vehicle’s vicinity and stops immediately it if an obstacle suddenly appears in its path.

The autonomous truck also offers an environmental upside, as the gear-changing, steering and speed are constantly optimised for low fuel consumption and emissions.

The project with Renova will continue until end of 2017, as it further explores how automation can contribute to enhanced traffic safety, improved work conditions and lower environmental impact.

Much of the technology in the vehicle is also being used in the autonomous self-driving mining truck that Volvo Group unveiled in 2016, and which is currently undergoing tests in northern Sweden.