California Department of Transportation

Automated Litter Bag/Debris Collection Vehicle

Automated Litter Bag/Debris Collection Vehicle
Automated Litter Bag/Debris Collection Vehicle

Debris Removal Vehicle Video

Litter bag and debris removal operations vary in procedure, but have in common low efficiency, moderate costs, and high risk of injury. Some operations require one worker to drive along the roadside, periodically stopping and getting out to throw bags or debris from the roadside into the truck. Other operations allow the driver to stay in the vehicle while additional crew remove litter bags and large debris from the roadside and place them in the truck.

Manual retrieving of litter bags and debris can be greatly improved in terms of efficiency and safety with the introduction of the Automated Litter Bag/Debris Collection Vehicle developed by the AHMCT Center. The main goal of the machine is to reduce the number of personnel required for the operation and keep the worker safely within the vehicle while still allowing efficient performance.

A first-generation prototype, evaluated by Caltrans equipment and maintenance personnel during an extensive on-road field testing phase, was re-engineered based on corresponding results.

The second generation machine has the multi-terrain ability to pick up litter bags and large debris from either side of the standard 7.6 cubic meter (10 cubic yard) slightly modified compacting conventional cab truck at levels within 4 feet above or below road surface. The hydraulic clamshell-type manipulator mounted between the cab and the compactor of a truck has several preset locations, corresponding to typical areas of pickup. The fine tuning of pickup location can be directed from within the cab, by the driver. Once the operator has grabbed the desired object and indicated so with the push of one button, the manipulator will retract itself to a position above the opening of the trash compactor, the lid will open, the pinch will release its contents into the trash compactor and return to a position ready for traveling or further use.

The pinch bucket can grip objects such as multiple or single litter bags, tires, mufflers, and lumber. The maximum payload of the bucket is approximately 45.4 kilograms (100 pounds).

Recent field testing has demonstrated that the machine has the ability to pick up several tires or up to 8 bags at one time. This design has the enormous benefit of autonomously performing the repetitive task of moving to the roadside location, bringing the load to the compactor, dumping the load, and returning to a ready position, while allowing the operator the critical control at only necessary times.

Development has been supported by the Federal Highway Administration, Caltrans and a private contractor.