First driverless EV log truck unveiled
AUTONOMOUS ELECTRIC LOG TRUCKS ARE GETTING CLOSER TO reality.
Hot on the heels of an article in NZ Logger magazine’s August issue that predicted we could see a driverless EV log truck in our forests as early as 2025, comes news of the unveiling of a prototype of such a truck in Europe.
Swedish tech company, Einride, chose the recent Goodwood Festival of Speed event in England to take the wraps off the T-Log, which it describes as an autonomous logging truck that incorporates “some off-road capabilities and is designed to navigate forest roads.”
Powered by a 300kWh battery pack that enables the T-Log to travel 192 kilometres on one charge, the all-electric truck can haul 16 tonnes of logs – not much by today’s standards, but it’s a start.
Just as interesting is the ability of the T-Log to pilot itself around the forest and out on the road without a driver.
Powered by the Nvidia Drive self-driving platform, the T-Log is capable of SAE level 4 self-driving. It has no driver’s cab but can be remote-controlled by a human operator from hundreds of kilometres away using Phantom Auto tele-operation safety technology. Connected to intelligent routing software, providing it with real-time traffic data, the T-Log can adjust its route to avoid congestion well ahead. A fleet of T-logs would be co-ordinated by that routing system, optimising delivery time, battery life and energy consumption, Einride says.
No driver’s cab enables a smaller vehicle, increased loading capacity, greater flexibility, lower production costs, lower operating costs and optimised energy consumption, allowing the T-Log to run solely on batteries, even in difficult environments.
“The driver’s cab is what makes trucks expensive to produce and having a driver in the cabin is what makes them expensive to operate,” says Robert Falck, CEO of Einride.
“Remove the cabin and replace the driver with an operator who can monitor and remote-control several vehicles at once and costs can be reduced significantly. In addition, operating a vehicle from a distance allows for a much better working environment, as has already been demonstrated in industries like mining.
“With the T-Log, we’ve created a vehicle that can withstand the rigours of a demanding environment. It is uncharted territory for us, but also an enormous market for battery-powered AVs.”
One thing the company will need to develop further if the T-Log is ever to make it into production, apart from being able to haul more logs and travel further on one charge, is the ground clearance – it might work well on Goodwood’s race track but would soon get stuck on any forestry road in New Zealand.
Below: The all-electric Swedish-made T-Log can cart 16 tonnes of logs in its bunks.