Driverless truck to protect road crews makes its debut

PHOTO BY MATTHEW BARTMANN First in the world, the driverless AIPV is “designed to be hit,” in order to protect road crews. The attachment at the rear lowers to become a first line of defense—an impact absorber and deflector of colliding vehicles.
The rear-mounted “Scorpion” is the crash attenuator that protects construction vehicles and workers in front of it. For more on the attenuator, see

No matter how many warning signs, cones, and flaggers are in place, road construction workers are in constant danger from vehicles that don’t get the message. Colorado Department of Transportation’s brand new, first-in-the-world unmanned construction vehicle, a truck that travels without a driver and is “designed to be hit,” thanks to technology adapted from the military, aims to help change that.

A striping truck usually brings up the rear in work zones—the most dangerous position. CDOT’s new Autonomous Impact Protection Vehicle (AIPV), developed in partnership with Colas UK, Royal Truck & Equipment and Kratos Defense and Security Solutions, will now be last in line.

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“We all want to get home safe at night,” say CDOT road stripers Josh and Dustin. They’ve been helping put the driverless, crash-cushioned AIPV through its paces, guiding it via GPS from a manned striping truck, which travels in front of it.

Unveiled for the first time in Fort Collins on August 18, the unmanned impact-protection truck is designed to protect the striping truck.

The AIPV includes a rear-mounted “attenuator,” a crash cushion that absorbs the shock and deflects vehicles that cross into work zones.

The actual striping truck, which also guides the protective AIPV, travels in front of the driverless vehicle. The two trucks are linked by computers so that the GPS coordinates of the striping truck transmit to the AIPV behind.

After trials, testing, and training are complete, the big yellow AIPV will be employed to protect road construction areas throughout CDOT’s coverage area. “Safer operation keeps our guys safe, keeps the public safe,” said a CDOT spokesman at the AIPV’s debut in Fort Collins.

To see the AIPV being demonstrated at its debut, go to the video on