First driver­less EV log truck un­veiled

New Zealand Logger - - Forest Talk -

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.

NZL

Below: The all-elec­tric Swedish-made T-Log can cart 16 tonnes of logs in its bunks.

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