The North Dakota DOT (NDDOT) recently hosted several officials to demonstrate its first autonomous impact protection vehicle at the Grand Farm Test Site near Horace, North Dakota.
“This is a great day for North Dakota to showcase its commitment to innovation,” NDDOT Director Bill Panos said in a statement. “This technology is one more tool that we will have available to enhance the safety of work zones in our state.”
NDDOT says the autonomous vehicle will improve safety in work zones by removing the driver from the impact protection vehicle during normal operation. Impact protection vehicles are typically human operated and are designed to protect road construction crews from distracted motorists in work zones.
Last year, there were 261 work zone related crashes on North Dakota highways. These crashes resulted in 64 injuries and two fatalities.
The upgrade was made possible by a $241,687 grant from the Federal Highway Administration through its Accelerated Innovation Deployment (AID) program this past January.
This pilot project included the purchase of the autonomous vehicle technology that was used to convert a current NDDOT truck into a self-driving vehicle, or autonomous impact protection vehicle. This technology was developed by Kratos Defense in partnership with Royal Truck & Equipment.
The autonomous vehicle will be monitored and controlled by a human operated lead vehicle and will automatically follow behind construction equipment without putting a driver in danger.
SOURCE: North Dakota DOT