Volvo CE test safety concepts with Colas
Manufacturer and customer collaborating on research project to improve work site safety
VOLVO Construction Equipment are collaborating with their customer Colas on a research project that has seen the Swedish manufacturer develop and test a range of concepts and prototypes that contribute towards improved work site safety.
As part of the ‘[email protected]’ research project, Volvo CE recently tested a people-detection system at two Colas sites – an asphalt plant and a quarry in Switzerland.
The concept uses artificial intelligence (AI) to alert the operator when a person is detected in the vicinity of a machine. It incorporates different warning systems, both for the operator and for people in the area surrounding the machine.
Volvo CE engineers were already developing the integrated AI algorithm, which has been further improved during the [email protected] project.
The prototype is one of three operator-assist concepts that Volvo CE have been collaborating on with Colas since 2016. The work is part of a research project to prove the technology is viable for the industry, and plans for industrialization are under investigation.
‘Safety is one of Volvo CE’s core values and we are actively working to create even safer work sites for employees, customers and anyone in the vicinity of our machines,’ said Veit Kleeberg, chief project manager for [email protected] at Volvo CE.
‘When Colas approached us to partner on this research project we were keen to get involved. We used the ‘Design Thinking’ methodology – which involves putting the user first and finding out their needs before generating ideas – and came up with 27 concepts that could contribute to reducing the number of accidents involving employees and members of the public on construction sites.
‘Together with Colas, we picked the three preferred concepts and started to design and test them.’
The latest tests in Switzerland in March marked the third round of testing and demonstrations that Volvo CE have carried out on excavators, wheel loaders and articulated haulers at Colas job sites. The people-detection concept was tested on an EW160E excavator and a L220H wheel loader.
‘The testing was a great success and operator feedback was very encouraging,’ said Mr Kleeberg. ‘This time we were focusing on the accuracy of the concept, after we’d made some improvements following tests with Colas in January.
‘Being able to test the technology in a real-world environment and getting instant customer feedback is invaluable. This partnership has enabled us to investigate new technologies and explore concepts that add value for our customers and address our ambitions, such as zero accidents.’
Philippe Simarik, prevention, health and safety director at Colas, added: ‘We wanted to partner with a construction equipment manufacturer and create an innovative safety system that would reduce the number of accidents involving people on construction sites.
‘Given that we share core values, especially safety, Volvo CE were the ideal choice. We are working together to develop and test various new ideas. The most mature of those ideas is the people-detection concept, and we hope to equip our machines with this system in the future.
‘Our collaboration with Volvo CE has been extremely positive; together we have come up with a solution that will improve work site safety.’