Volvo’s fully autonomous truck is the first in the world to be tested in operations deep underground in the Kristineberg Mine. The self-driving truck is part of a development project aimed at improving the transport flow and safety in the mine. The truck will cover a distance of 7km, reaching 1,320 metres underground in the narrow mine tunnels.
The research project is a cooperative venture with Saab’s technology consulting subsidiary Combitech.
The vehicles used in the mine are series-built Volvo FMX trucks equipped with new functionality. Amongst other things, they include a system incorporating radar/laser-based sensors. This system was initially used to monitor the mine’s geometry and to generate a map of the route that the truck has to negotiate. The information gleaned was then used to regulate the vehicle’s speed, steering, and gear changes. On every new trip, the sensors are used to continuously scan the area around the truck and further optimise both the operation and the route.
“This is the world’s first fully self-driving truck to operate under such tough conditions. It is a true challenge to ensure that everything works meticulously more than 1300 metres underground,” says Torbjörn Holmström, Volvo Group chief technology officer.
Volvo Group has produced this film in the harsh operating conditions in the Kristineberg mine, 100km from Arvidsjaur in northern Sweden.
In the film Torbjörn Holmström happily stands in the middle of the mine gallery as the truck approaches him, such is his confidence in how safe the truck is.
“No matter what type of vehicle we develop, safety is always our primary concern and this also applies to self-driving vehicles. I was convinced the truck would stop –but naturally I felt a knot in my stomach until the truck applied its brakes!”