SCANIA JOINS ELITE SELF-DRIVING TRUCK CLUB
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.”
Self-driving trucks like this are 12% more productive than humans.