Our Manifesto


AV Trash Truck Manifesto

We created the AV Trash Truck project to give a voice to the concerns of sanitation workers and to work towards finding an autonomous vehicle solution that benefits both the workers and residents who are served by these workers. We believe that the ubiquity of autonomous technology is imminent, and we want to route conversations about AV toward solutions that serve the good of all community members, not just the profit and convenience of corporations and wealthy individuals. We intend to focus on both the short-term and long-term needs of both stakeholders, the sanitation workers and residents.

A focus on short-term needs

Protect sanitation workers: We call for healthier and safer conditions for sanitation workers that allows them to perform their jobs to the best of their abilities despite weather conditions, hazardous materials, and medical waste.

Engage with residents: Today, there is no systematic way for residents to communicate with sanitation workers or their parent agency to help identify problems with the current system and find effective solutions. We therefore call for increased customer engagement to help areas that need more sanitation services. This can be programmed for either a city or a customer based on frequency, conformance and regulations

A strategic long-term focus

Environment: We aim to encourage sustainable operations that have minimal impact on the environment (eg lower fuel consumption, lower pollution and higher utilization)

Tax-payer money: We advocate for active management of sanitation assets and people to realize significant cost-savings for cities (less money spent on maintenance esp. if EVs)

Residents: Improve sanitation outcomes for all populations in terms of frequency of collection and ease of disposal.

Sanitation workers: Holistic training, development, and responsibilities. Autonomous systems can reduce accidents and help sanitation workers focus on community building tasks. We want to enable sanitation workers to use their skills for other services, such as street and vacant lot cleaning, shifting the role of sanitation workers to city beautification artists. Future tasks could include but are not limited to the following:

  • Focus on promoting volunteering opportunities for other citizens to join in (civic virtue+network effects of getting others to help)

  • Find ways to have companies sponsor projects/fundraise to mitigate funding pressure for cities

  • Focus on developing “green” ways to beautify the city (eg: tree plantation programs)

Why AV For Waste?

  1. AVs can be programmed to meet city needs. We can program frequency, schedule, and conformance to legal regulations.

  2. AVs allow higher efficiency and utilization of vehicles. AVs can optimize real-time routes for collection and disposal; EVs require less maintenance.

  3. AVs reduce accidents (e.g. via multiple sensors, far less likely to hit parked cars). AVs are insusceptible to fatigue, not bored by repetitive tasks, and not distracted.

  4. AV for trash collection makes economic sense: AV for garbage collection has potential to improve lives of citizen through a pay-per-pickup business model that intuitively makes economic sense. Labor saving/ride can be used toward increasing collection frequency in critical areas. Residents today pay about $40/mo. Assume 4 pickups a month. Revenue / pickup / HH is about $10, “almost a 5 mile Uber ride”. The typical city dump is about 15 miles away from a central residential neighborhood. Thus, three HH pickups = 1 trip to the dump!

What is AV Leadership?

  1. Regulatory Leadership. A seat at the table enables a position at the forefront of urban transportation policy. For OEMs, this relationship with cities creates openings to test other AV opportunities

  2. Economic Leadership. Unit economics scale as the number of cities an AV provider enters increases. This allows the provider to test edge cases in “weird” cities to improve its offerings. Additionally, waste management presents an opportunity for AV providers to rise in a fragmented market. According to IBIS World, the share of the top 3 waste management providers is only 47%.

  3. Proximity to the Customer. A municipal strategy allows AV providers to research and understand other customer AV needs. Working with cities, especially innovative, smart cities, offers a more agile, fail fast environment (especially compared to working with state or federal entities).

Moving into the future

We’ve designed an incentive structure that promotes creating less waste, with the hope that individual consumers will become more conscious of their consumption and disposal. Furthermore, we hope to create a world with fruitful private-public partnerships, where all parties work together to serve human needs.

While companies like Ford, Volvo, and Daimler are already working with cities to better provide sanitation, snow removal, and bicycle share, this is a space with even more potential. We could see automated vehicles being used to provide other services - such as mobile green spaces, data collection & asset management and even mobile voting booths. By garnering the goodwill of cities, this strategy enables trust so that all partners can cooperatively provide safe and accessible goods and people movement, now and in the future.


Ema Yamamoto, Cyndi Chen, Albert Yu, and Rohan Sriram

Last updated: 5/10/2019

We always hear about it when there is something wrong, but its pretty rare when somebody will tell us that we did a good job. It feels good when we get those notes.
— Interview with municipal employee