Partnership to introduce autonomous tow tractors

Fusion Processing and Bradshaw Vehicles have announced the beginning of a new partnership to develop fully autonomous tow tractors.

tow tractors
Autonomous tow tractors could improve safety and efficiency across various settings such as in airports and warehouses

Used extensively in factory, warehouse and airport logistics, autonomising these vehicles could improve safety and drive operational efficiencies in terms of refining logistics of complex environments, where the smooth running and timely delivery of goods and baggages is key. 

Fusion Processing’s CAVstar control and sensing system will reportedly be used to make Bradshaw’s third generation T700 and T800 Tow Tractors fully autonomous (unmanned). The the artificial intelligence system uses a range of sensors including LIDAR, optical cameras and ultrasonics to build a picture of the environment around the vehicle and plot the most efficient, safe route. 

The autonomous tow tractors could be operated safely inside factories where GPS signal is unavailable, without the need for installation of expensive infrastructure. 

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CEO of Fusion Processing, Jim Hutchinson, said: “We can apply our AI and engineering expertise developed on numerous autonomous vehicle projects, including the world’s first full sized autonomous bus, to transform the warehouse logistics industry.”

The CAVstar system is said to be able to be retrofitted to any vehicle, where it controls the throttle, braking and steering systems to provide autonomous operation. It will be configured for the electric vehicle and tuned to deliver ‘more efficient throttle and braking control than is possible by a human driver’. 

Bradshaw Electric Vehicles’ joint managing director Drew Bradshaw said: “Our third generation T700 and T800 Tow Tractor is the ideal model to autonomise as production lines often run a 24 hour operation and the 48-volt system and rollout battery lends itself to extended run-time applications, negating the need for shift changes and down time.

“It will typically be hauling loads of up to eight tonnes around complex environments where precision logistics are key to the smooth operations. We’re also particularly keen to realise the energy savings that Fusion’s autonomous CAVstar system can deliver.”