Scania has teamed up with Swedish research universities to successfully develop autonomous driving trucks that can travel up to 90km per hour.
The project, carried out in conjunction with Stockholm’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Linköping University, Saab, and Autoliv under a government funded project called iQMatic, aimed 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.
Self automated trucks will boost mining productivity by 15 to 20 per cent and truck uptimes by nearly a fifth. Automated fleets used by Rio Tinto also produced a 12 per cent increase of productivity compared to manual operation.
However, as trucks have a greater size and inertia than passenger vehicles, autonomous driving is more challenging.
The next demonstration of the truck will be held in May with testing on a working mine planned for later in the year.