Improve Work Zone and System-wide Safety with Autonomous Truck-mounted Attenuators

Safety Champion

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chief safety and operations officer becky allmeroth
Becky Allmeroth
Chief Safety and Operations Officer
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Missouri Department of Transportation
105 W. Capitol Ave.
Jefferson City, MO 65102
Phone: (573)-751-2803
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Project Manager

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Chris Redline
Chris Redline
District Engineer
Kansas City District
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Purpose of the Project:

 MoDOT’s commitment to safety applies to our employees and customers. Truck Mounted Attenuators (TMA) have been involved in 36 crashes with several members of our team seeking medical attention.  The typical incident is when a driver is approaching a mobile work zone and crashes into the TMA truck. These crashes range from minor fender benders to total loss of the truck and TMA plus severe injuries to both drivers and even death.  MoDOT is investigating the viability of driverless truck-mounted attenuators to be used in moving operations such as sweeping, striping and pothole patching. Success of this project could pave the way to eliminate all injuries caused by drivers crashing into the rear of a TMA.   

The project is evaluating leader-follower technology in Kansas City and Southwest Districts. The goal is to remove operators from the rear TMA, the one most crashed into by drivers while operating on divided highways. During testing, the rear TMA is required to have a safety operator with the ability to immediately take over manual control of the truck. The driverless rear TMA simply follows the path of the operator driven lead vehicle at adjustable distances.

Kansas City District Project:  Approximately 90% complete.  The Kansas City the system has successfully run 60 consecutive hours out of 240 required hours per our contractual obligation.                                                                 

COMPLETE: Tasks 1 – 6 are complete and include Prepare Schedule, Describe Systems, Develop Training and Testing Plans, Provide NCHRP 350 Leader Follower TMA system, Train MoDOT staff, Test system on controlled roadway.

IN-PROCESS: Task 7, Deploy system in live work zones with safety driver.

UPCOMING: Task 8, Final reporting.

Southwest District Project:  100% Complete.  The team will continue to operate the system in driverless mode with a safety driver.