Scania successfully trials self-driving mining truck


A research project in Sweden has successfully tested a self-driving truck at 90km/h

Scania successfully trials self-driving mining truck
The self-driving Scania on the test track.

 

Ongoing research by Scania and KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden has successfully tested an autonomous mining truck, with the prototype vehicle travelling unassisted at speeds up to 90km/h.

First announced in February, the project focuses on how European prototype vehicles withstand mining conditions at a company test facility and assesses how the vehicles respond without hands on the steering wheel.

The results, according to KTH professor of control engineering Bo Wahlberg, are a step forward towards the team’s goal of developing fully self-driving vehicles for dangerous environments.

"We have come a long way with the work and have already proven with a real truck that the task is possible," Wahlberg says.

"The truck drove itself with a maximum deviation of 20 centimeters from the road's center line.

"It performs very precisely, even at higher speeds."

The successful trials mean the Scania vehicles will be taken to a real mine environment in May to analyse how the truck can handle real-world  obstacles and tasks, such as picking up and unloading gravel.

One of the KTH researchers involved in the project, Pedro Lima says the prototype travelled "softly and stably" at speeds up to 90km/h.

The prototype, developed by Lima, Wahlberg, and others, uses a control algorithm and Model Predictive Control (MPC) system to keep it on narrow and winding roads.

"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 says.

The system minimises deviations, side-to-side jerks of the steering wheel, and quick changes of acceleration or braking to maximise passenger comfort and fuel consumption.

The team says the prototype, named Astator, has two steering axles, which add to the complexity of the trials, and requires new information every 50 milliseconds to ensure it makes the right steering, braking, or acceleration decisions.

   

 

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