Volvo Trucks wants its vehicles to think like humans

Whether they are driving, cycling or walking, humans have a habit of acting randomly and that’s a traffic problem.

Volvo Trucks North America is working with automated vehicle software provider Perceptive Automata to develop truck-based artificial intelligence to read the intentions of other road users.

The Perceptive Automata AI software system uses sensors to read visual cues. It looks for eye contact, posture, physical orientation and head movements to figure out what the human is going to do next.

A demonstration of Perceptive Automata’s artificial intelligence tracking and signaling. (Photo: Volvo Trucks)

HUMAN CHALLENGE

Predicting what others will do is among the most challenging problems for autonomous vehicles like self-driving trucks, Volvo said. The intent is to warn truck drivers and launch automated systems in the vehicle to avoid collisions and improve safety. “Advanced automation in trucking is an important application of our human behaviour prediction technology,” said Sid Misra, chief executive of Perceptive Automata.

PROOF-OF-CONCEPT

Volvo recently conducted a proof-of-concept test with Dependable Highway Express (DHE) in Los Angeles, Volvo used its VNR 300 regional-haul truck as the test vehicle.

The system conducted continuous 360-degree monitoring of human road users near the truck. It alerted the truck driver and on-board automated systems of risks based on changes in human intention.

That allows the driver and the truck’s automated safety systems to act to reduce the likelihood of collision. It also improves safety by automatically modulating the amount and severity of braking and acceleration.

“We continue to explore new and innovative ways to further enhance transportation safety,” said Aravind Kailas, Volvo’s research manager. “We are very proud of the collaboration with Perceptive Automata and DHE, who share our vision for increasing safety.”

DHE provided real-world data from its fleet operations to enable the customization of the software.

“We are excited to play a part in the research and development of this automation technology and the positive impact it can have in keeping everyone safer on the roads of the world,” said Joe Finney, chief operating officer at DHE.

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