Volvo Trucks trans­forms into au­ton­o­mous driv­ing

COM­MER­CIAL NEWS/ Six Volvo FH trucks will trans­port lime­stone over a 5km stretch, which in­cludes tun­nels, with­out a driver

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS - Mo­tor News Re­porter

Volvo’s self-driv­ing truck pro­gramme has opened up some in­ter­est­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties, with tri­als un­der way ex­plor­ing au­ton­o­mous sugar cane har­vest­ing and garbage col­lec­tion.

The Swedish au­to­mo­tive group is now set to see how its robo-trucks fare in real-world sce­nar­ios, af­ter ink­ing its first com­mer­cial deal with a Nor­we­gian re­source com­pany to cart lime­stone away from its mine.

Volvo Trucks has signed a land­mark agree­ment with Brøn­nøy Kalk in Nor­way to pro­vide its first com­mer­cial au­ton­o­mous so­lu­tion trans­port­ing lime­stone from an open pit mine to a nearby port.

The so­lu­tion for Brøn­nøy Kalk con­sists of lime­stone be­ing trans­ported by six self-driv­ing Volvo FH trucks on a 5km stretch through tun­nels be­tween the mine it­self and the crusher. Tests of this so­lu­tion have been car­ried out suc­cess­fully and will con­tinue un­til it be­comes fully op­er­a­tional by the end of 2019, ac­cord­ing to Volvo Trucks.

The agree­ment fol­lows re­cent suc­cess­ful au­to­ma­tion projects in­volv­ing min­ing, sugar cane har­vest­ing and refuse col­lec­tion. Yet this com­mer­cial so­lu­tion is a first for Volvo Trucks. Rather than buy­ing au­ton­o­mous trucks, Brøn­nøy Kalk is buy­ing a trans­port so­lu­tion. That means it will pay Volvo for every ton of lime­stone that it de­liv­ers us­ing six of its driver­less trucks.

Volvo’s self-driv­ing trucks use an ar­ray of GPS, radar and LiDAR sen­sors to nav­i­gate their sur­round­ings. Test runs with hu­man su­per­vi­sors were com­pleted at the Nor­we­gian mine be­fore the keys were handed over to the com­puter.

“This is an im­por­tant step for us,” says Ray­mond Langfjord, MD of the mine. “The com­pe­ti­tion in the in­dus­try is tough. We are con­tin­u­ously look­ing to in­crease our ef­fi­ciency and pro­duc­tiv­ity long term and we have a clear vi­sion of tak­ing ad­van­tage of new op­por­tu­ni­ties in tech­nol­ogy and dig­i­tal so­lu­tions. Go­ing au­ton­o­mous will greatly in­crease our com­pet­i­tive­ness in a tough global mar­ket.”

Says Claes Nils­son, pres­i­dent of Volvo Trucks: “We are proud to be able to present an au­ton­o­mous so­lu­tion which will meet the chal­lenges of our cus­tomers both in terms of safety, re­li­a­bil­ity and prof­itabil­ity. The global trans­port needs are con­tin­u­ously chang­ing at a very high pace and the in­dus­try is de­mand­ing new and ad­vanced so­lu­tions to stay ahead.

“It is ex­cit­ing to reach this point where we in­tro­duce au­ton­o­mous so­lu­tions”, says Sasko Cuk­lev, di­rec­tor au­ton­o­mous so­lu­tions at Volvo Trucks. “By work­ing in a con­fined area on a pre­de­ter­mined route, we can tai­lor it ac­cord­ing to spe­cific cus­tomer needs. This is all about col­lab­o­rat­ing to de­velop new so­lu­tions, pro­vid­ing greater flex­i­bil­ity and ef­fi­ciency as well as in­creased pro­duc­tiv­ity.”


Robo-trucks will cart lime­stone from a mine to port with­out hu­man in­ter­ven­tion.

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