Design and Development of an Automated Truck Mounted Attenuator

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SAFE-D: Safety Through Disruption National University Transportation Center


Truck-Mounted Attenuators (TMAs) are energy-absorbing devices added to heavy shadow vehicles to provide a mobile barrier that protects work crews from errant vehicles entering active work zones. While the TMA is designed to absorb and/or redirect the energy from a colliding vehicle, there is still significant risk of injury to the TMA driver when struck, which has happened at an increasing rate in Virginia since 2011. Although various efforts have been made to improve TMA driver crashworthiness, the most effective way to protect TMA drivers may be to remove them from the vehicle altogether. During this project, a consortium consisting of VTTI, VDOT, DBi Services, and Transurban collaborated to design and build an automated TMA system (ATMA) that will remove the driver in future phases from the TMA vehicle in mobile and short duration work zone operations using a short following distance leader-follower control concept. The resulting ATMA successfully operates at speeds up to 15mph in environments with dependable GPS signal and at commanded following distances between 50-400 feet. The ATMA features a LIDAR-based system to detect and respond to obstacles and has an extensive internal and external human-machine interface to support communications between system operators and external road users.



automated vehicle, truck-mounted attenuator, work zone safety, automated driving system