Scania tests self-driving mining trucks


Scania begins testing remote-controlled mining trucks with broader transport goals

Scania tests self-driving mining trucks
Scania truck being remotely controlled on the test track.

 

Swedish truck maker Scania has begun testing specialised mining trucks for autonomous roles with an eye towards container and freight trucking in ‘tomorrow’s transport system’.

Developed in conjunction with Swedish researchers, the project focuses on how remote-controlled European prototype vehicles withstand mining conditions at a company test facility and assesses how the vehicles respond without hands on the steering wheel.

The self-driving ‘Astator’ vehicles operate with an empty driver’s seat, Scania says, and are carrying out mining simulations of loading and unloading.

A member of Scania’s team responsible for pre-development within Autonomous Transport Solutions, Lars Hjorth says "mines are environments that are especially well suited to self-driving vehicles."

"The area is contained and the operator can control what equipment or personnel are working in the area."

Also part of the iQMatic project, a joint venture with Saab, Autoliv, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Linköping University, and the Swedish government which has broader autonomous goals to fix traffic accidents and congestion, Hjorth believes a smaller scale solution will be financially beneficial for mining operators.

"A truck solution is more cost effective, with the total cost per transported tonne being significantly lower," Hjorth says.

"The infrastructure costs are also reduced as trucks don’t require specially reinforced roads."

 

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This benefit could also spill over to truck operators working in ports, he says, then into the freight sector.

"The next step could be self-driving container trucks in ports," Hjorth says.

"And after that the technology will also come to the long haul transport sector, with self-driving vehicles driving between large transport centres where their cargoes are then loaded into last mile delivery trucks."

Scania Australia’s Mining and Resources general manager Robert Taylor believes there is "a lot of opportunity" for "autonomous truck technology in the not-so-distant future in Australia."

"Customers are already talking with us to find out how we can assist them to implement this technology for specific applications," he says.

"There is also a lot of interest in platooning for road train line-haul work as well."

 

 

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