COAST Brings Autonomy to the Polaris Pro XDIncreasing Jobsite Efficiency and Operator Awareness
Autonomous mobility on the jobsite is a recent advancement that can extend the capabilities of a crew, and COAST Autonomous is helping do the heavy lifting. Founded in 2017, COAST was created to help solve traffic challenges in city centers while improving mobility and livelihood through autonomous solutions. The company has since expanded to provide solutions to industrial applications – where increasing crew visibility and jobsite efficiencies is a universal goal.
But autonomous mobility is only as effective as a vehicle’s capabilities, and with the rugged terrain and hauling capacities required on industrial jobsites, COAST knew they needed to add a vehicle to their fleet that was up to the challenge. The company turned to the Polaris Pro XD work utility vehicle (UTV), and they haven’t turned back since.
When Class 1 railroads were looking to reduce the $100 million-dollar costs they were experiencing in yearly crew transport, the COAST engineering team knew incorporating autonomous vehicles was the ideal use case solution. Autonomous vehicles increase operational flexibility by providing on-demand movement of people and goods; instead of waiting for available drivers, crews can simply call for a vehicle to pick them up. With technology that includes vehicle sensors, jobsite mapping and predictable traffic patterns, crews and materials are moved throughout jobsites more efficiently. Additionally, autonomous vehicles have the ability to run 24/7, further increasing productivity. And with incorporated technology, vehicles can transition from being crew driven or fully autonomous with the flip of a switch, further increasing jobsite flexibility.
COAST initially equipped a Class 1 railroad with its autonomous golf carts, which helped transport crews more effectively while also freeing up employees for other tasks. The golf carts, however, lacked the appropriate equipment hauling capabilities needed. Additionally, the increased wear and tear that comes with a rail yard had the carts seeing better days.
“We started with a golf cart and our customer really liked it. However, the terrain on the rail side was far too rugged,” said Aimie Nghiem, Director of Program Development at COAST Autonomous. “It would rip apart the vehicles, so they wanted something more industrial. And that’s when we came across the Polaris Pro XD.”
Purpose-built for the jobsite, the Pro XD UTV’s heavy-duty suspension allows for a total payload of up to 2,075 pounds, including 12.6 cubic feet of cargo bed volume with up to 1,270-pound capacity – providing ample hauling capabilities for rail customers. Moving through rail sites and intermodal yards often means navigating tight spaces, driving around moving objects and navigating through dust and debris. With increased agility, offroad capabilities and rugged durability, the Pro XD UTV offers a smooth ride while keeping passengers and equipment secure. The small footprint of the Pro XD provides efficient mobility through virtually any space, while comfortably transporting crews of up to four. A rust-free, dent-resistant composite bed and sealed driveline components improves resistance from corrosive conditions and helps keep the vehicle in peak condition throughout long jobsite hours.
Autonomous vehicles operating at appropriate speeds for their environment further result in crew awareness, require less sensors, and provide a faster service for short trips. And with speed-limited capabilities, the Pro XD UTV continues to fit the requirements COAST desired. Depending on the demands of a customer’s jobsite, COAST can equip Pro XD gas or diesel models with autonomous technology.
Capable payload and efficient crew transport are crucial for optimum production across industrial sites, and COAST and its customers have been impressed with the Pro XD’s ability to get the job done.
Keeping Safety Top of Mind
A key element to safe autonomous driving in logistics and industrial operations is to optimize overall system reliability – and COAST’s autonomous driving system is designed to maximize resiliency. On every jobsite, COAST collects mapping data first-hand by driving the specific routes in which the vehicles operate. Once the relevant data is collected, it is converted into a high-resolution map that represents layers of data points for the autonomous vehicle. Each new use case in a different environment allows COAST to add data to its AI stack to improve perception, path planning, and localization. COAST perception sensors equipped throughout the vehicle make sure the vehicle overtakes obstacles or stops safely before hitting anyone or anything. Safety is job one.
While the autonomous sensors create a virtual cocoon around a vehicle, it is imperative for COAST that the vehicles within their fleet also help promote jobsite and crew safety. Standard safety features, including backup alarms and horn, orange seatbelts and speed-limited capabilities, further increase rider visibility while also increasing vehicle awareness for surrounding crew members.
“The industrial sector, especially, understands the value of autonomy to increase productivity and efficiency, and we’re seeing an increase in companies incorporating autonomous vehicles on their jobsites,” said Nghiem.
COAST converts vehicles directly from the manufacturer with a team of engineers that work together to install the autonomous software stack that allows for dynamic, unique driving modes and patterns to fit virtually any application or need. Equipped with the company’s proprietary stack of sensors, robotics and software, the company’s fleet of autonomous Pro XDs is helping to revolutionize jobsite transportation and productivity while increasing efficiencies for their industrial customers.
See the full line of Pro XD vehicles.
Disclaimer: Custom vehicle with autonomous technology integrated shown. Modifications could increase risk of injury. Check your owner’s manual for information about modifications.