US-based United Rentals - the largest equipment rental company in the world – has teamed up with automation specialist 5D Robotics to bring autonomous driving technology to its operations.

The companies said the 5D technology prevented collisions, enabled multiple vehicles to follow a person or lead vehicle (known a ‘wagon-training’), and allowed operators to create and modify autonomous paths throughout a facility.

United Rentals vice president of operational excellence Helge Jacobsen said that seeing autonomous vehicle technology function in the company’s rental yards had been an eye opener.

“The equipment can move from station to station within the yard. The integration with 5D offers substantial opportunities to improve our efficiency and safety, as well as provide new analytical and mapping tools to our own branches and eventually to our customers."

And David Bruemmer, 5D Robotics co-founder and CEO, said, “5D has pioneered precision positioning and autonomous driving software that performs reliably in difficult, dynamic environments.

“By adding our cross-platform plug and play modules, we can provide autonomy and enhance safety across United Rentals' fleet. We are excited to expand the application of autonomous vehicles into the equipment rental space with the industry leader. Our two companies share a passion to bring this innovative technology to hundreds of United Rentals locations, and, ultimately, to their customers."

United Rentals said ZTR Control Systems and SiTech RTD were joining it and 5D Robotics in the development of the new systems.

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