Volvo Tests a Self-driving Truck in a Swedish Mine, Blows Our Minds

Chaitanya Tapase

We’re on the brink of time where autonomous vehicles are slowly changing our mindset about transport. Less humans behind wheels would mean less errors, which will eventually cut down on the number of accidents on the road. Therefore, Volvo testing out a self-driving truck in a Swedish mine is noteworthy. Let’s get digging.

Self-driven trucks by Volvo are the way ahead | Image courtesy: Volvo Trucks
Self-driven trucks by Volvo are the way ahead | Image courtesy: Volvo Trucks

Of Blind Roadways & No Drivers

The tale of the self-driving Volvo FMX trucks is a fascinating one. Volvo has plans to test these trucks for the next year and a half on regular operations in the Boliden mine in Kristineberg, Sweden. This mine can go 1,000 meters deep and even with artificial lighting, this has to be one of the most difficult terrain to drive on. Claes Nilsson, President Volvo Trucks, explained –

The results will provide valuable input to our ongoing mission to transform technical breakthroughs into practical customer benefits.

So how are these trucks able to navigate in almost pitch dark environments? All it takes are laser sensors. We can explain it with a bouquet of words throughout the post, but we’d rather let you watch this video.

The cleverly implemented sensors (including GPS, radar and LiDAR) around the truck lets it detect objects around it, which is how it can navigate itself even in tight corners and bends. Once the truck sends a safety alert, it can be remotely operated by an expert driver in the mine’s transport management center.

A Stepping Stone

Volvo is conducting several tests to make their trucks fully autonomous. We’ve already spoken about the different levels of autonomous vehicles and Volvo wants to have a Level 4 fully autonomous car on the road by 2020. It is very likely that these tests conducted in the mines will be used to determine and improve safety levels of their cars.

Efficiency & Optimization

Logistics is a big headache to almost all industries, mining being no exception. It’s a dangerous business too, so lesser humans inside mines will only benefit companies in the long run.

Such trucks will be able to operate continuously, eliminate congestion and cut the time taken for loading and unloading.

The trucks won’t need to wait after blasting, which will improve the overall efficiency. Optimized systems like self-driven trucks will thus lead to a more efficient system.

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Chaitanya Tapase has varied interests in Technology from Android to Windows to DSLR Photography. On weekends, you'd find him catching up on TV Shows like Game of Thrones and enjoying House Music.