SCANIA JOINS ELITE SELF-DRIV­ING TRUCK CLUB

The Witness - Wheels - - TRANSPORT - — WWR.

SCANIA is fol­low­ing Ko­matsu’s ex­am­ple plans to de­velop self-driv­ing trucks that can travel up to 90km per hour fully loaded.

Scania said in a state­ment it will work with with Stock­holm’s KTH Royal In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy, Linköping Univer­sity, Saab, and Au­to­liv un­der a govern­ment funded project called iQMatic to cre­ate a self driv­ing truck de­signed to han­dle tough en­vi­ron­ments such as mines.

The truck con­cept is ca­pa­ble of han­dling on road ob­sta­cle and per­form­ing tasks such as haul­ing and un­load­ing gravel.

Re­searchers at KTH said the suc­cess­ful tests seek to have these self driv­ing trucks im­ple­mented in min­ing op­er­a­tions within the next one or two years.

Bo Wahlberg, pro­fes­sor of con­trol en­gi­neer­ing at KTH said, “We have come a long way with the work and have al­ready proven with a real truck that the task is pos­si­ble.”

“The truck drove it­self with a max­i­mum de­vi­a­tion of 20cm from the road’s cen­tre line. It per­forms very pre­cisely, even at higher speeds.”

Pe­dro Lima, an­other of the re­searchers said the pro­to­type, dubbed As­ta­tor, moved “softly and sta­bly” at 90km.

The re­searchers spent two years cre­at­ing the truck’s con­trol al­go­rithms to en­sure re­li­a­bil­ity and ac­cu­racy. It uses Model Pre­dic­tive Con­trol (MPC) to ma­noeu­ver it­self on nar­row roads, en­abling min­imi­sa­tion of path de­vi­a­tions and in­creas­ing the com­fort of pas­sen­gers through min­imis­ing jerks caused by steer­ing. It also en­ables the max­imi­sa­tion of fuel con­sump­tion of trucks.

“As the name im­plies, the model can pre­dict the ve­hi­cle’s move­ments in ev­ery given sit­u­a­tion, on the ba­sis of in­for­ma­tion about what di­rec­tion it’s be­ing steered in, how much throt­tle is given and al­ter­na­tively how much brak­ing force is ap­plied,” Lima said.

He also said that its con­trol sys­tem is able to pre­vent the truck from tip­ping on sharp turns.

The truck con­tains two steer­ing axles mean­ing its cal­cu­la­tion model must be more re­source in­ten­sive and com­plex. Wahlberg said that in or­der to ac­cu­rately steer, brake or ac­cel­er­ate, self driv­ing trucks re­quire new in­for­ma­tion ev­ery 50 mil­lisec­onds.

Hu­man driv­ers can­not match such mil­lisec­ond re­ac­tions, which is why self-driv­ing trucks have al­ready boosted min­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity in Aus­tralia. The Rio Tinto group, which uses a fleet of over 120 gi­ant self-driv­ing trucks built by Ko­matsu at its Yandi­coogina and Nam­muldi mine sites, re­port self-driv­ing trucks are 12% more pro­duc­tive than trucks steered by hu­mans.

The gi­ant tip­pers in Rio Tinto’s open cast mines are still mon­i­tored by a hu­man, but that per­son sits in Perth, 1 200 kilo­me­tres away from the mine.

The trucks run 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, with­out a driver who needs bath­room or lunch breaks, which has in­dus­try in­sid­ers es­ti­mat­ing each truck can save around 500 work hours a year. Hu­man driv­ers mar­vel at how sev­eral trucks us­ing the same route fol­low in­struc­tions so pre­cisely that they leave only one set of tracks.

Rio’s plans do not stop at trucks. It is also tri­alling un­manned trains and min­ing with ro­bot drills with the aim of rolling out the ma­chines across as many of its mine sites as pos­si­ble.

Even­tu­ally most of the com­pany’s sup­ply chain from the pit to the port will be re­mote con­trolled from Perth.

Mr Ben­nett said that in­volves the creation of new, highly skilled po­si­tions.

“We have a whole ded­i­cated team based in Perth that is look­ing at how to op­ti­mise the sys­tem, look­ing at main­te­nance, pro­duc­tiv­ity...those are jobs that did not ex­ist five years ago,” he said.

“We have got roles which are be­ing cre­ated such as a cen­tral con­troller and a pit con­troller which are es­sen­tial to run­ning the au­ton­o­mous sys­tem.”

PHOTO: KO­MATSU

Self-driv­ing trucks like this are 12% more pro­duc­tive than hu­mans.

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