Who’s testing the latest autonomous vehicle tech? The Port Authority. Here’s how

When Angel L. Rios started working for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in 1987, the agency was beginning to introduce PCs to employees. Now, 36 years later, it’s testing an autonomous vehicle in his department.

Right now, the agency uses typical human-driven street sweepers to suck up garbage on the 60 miles of road across the ports in the two states, as well as 18,000 linear feet of public wharf space that a cleaning crew is responsible for clearing of trash.

Those machines are limited because they aren’t used at night, when there’s low visibility; they require someone to operate; they are too big to reach more complex areas, like the berths by the water; and they can’t be used inside warehouses because of their size and because they run on diesel. The autonomous vehicle the Port Authority is piloting, which was manufactured by Finland-based Trombia Technologies, would solve most of those issues as an all-electric smaller sweeper that doesn’t require a driver.