Volvo taking automated vehicles underground

Volvo is demonstrating the underground capabilities of its self-driving trucks, following on from its ‘platoon of automated trucks’ journey across Europe.

The new truck and systems are part of the company’s research and development project focused on expanding its presence in mining.

“The Volvo Group has been conducting research into autonomous vehicles for several years and we are delighted to have already developed a solution that we believe will ultimately revolutionise the mining industry. We expect to be able to significantly increase our customers’ productivity while at the same time improving fuel efficiency and safety,” Torbjörn Holmström, Volvo’s chief technology officer, said.

The project itself is a joint venture between Volvo and Saab’s subsidiary Combitech, focusing on fully automated transport solutions.

“This unique truck, which is a fully fitted out construction vehicle, navigates and operates entirely autonomously both above and underground,” Volvo said.

“It uses sensors and GPS technology to continuously read its surroundings, navigating fixed and movable obstacles while gathering data via its transport system in order to further optimise its route and traffic safety.”

This development follows on from a series of stunts by Volvo to highlight their automated and manual trucks’ driving precision.

These include letting a four year old test drive the truck  remotely through an obstacle course involving marshes and swinging boxes – ultimately crashing through a house; letting a hamster drive via a steering wheel mounted hamster wheel from the bottom of an open pit to the top, and enlisting Jean Claude van Damme to demonstrate the accuracy in steering precision and stability by doing the splits between two trucks reversing at speed, whilst perched on their rear vision mirrors.


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