Automotive

Scania's cabless truck shows what the driverless future of mining looks like

Scania's cabless truck shows w...
Scania's AXL concept provides a preview of the driverless mining truck of the future
Scania's AXL concept provides a preview of the driverless mining truck of the future
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The AXL dumps its load
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The AXL dumps its load
Fill 'er up! This part of the process is manual, for now
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Fill 'er up! This part of the process is manual, for now
Both front sets of wheels are steerable
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Both front sets of wheels are steerable
The AXL runs on biofuel
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The AXL runs on biofuel
Scania's AXL concept provides a preview of the driverless mining truck of the future
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Scania's AXL concept provides a preview of the driverless mining truck of the future
The light bar wrapped around the vehicle illuminates to let people know the truck has "seen" them
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The light bar wrapped around the vehicle illuminates to let people know the truck has "seen" them
Scania says the AXL uses only existing technologies, and it's a taste of things to come
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Scania says the AXL uses only existing technologies, and it's a taste of things to come

There is no doubt we're headed towards a driverless future, but Scania's AXL is the company's first concept that does away with the cab altogether.

Scania has already developed a number of self-driving trucks that are currently in service across several customer operations, but they've always included a cabin just in case a human driver needs to take over. Pulling the cab out is the next logical step, with the AXL controlled solely by an external logistics system that tells it where to go and how to behave.

It also makes a pretty fundamental change to the nature of the vehicle. Without the cab, it's clear how much extra space there is for cargo. It's also clearly going to be cheaper than having a self-driving truck with a just-in-case cabin, both because you lose all the fiddly bits required to support humans and because you won't need to prove you can crash it without hurting the people inside.

Fill 'er up! This part of the process is manual, for now
Fill 'er up! This part of the process is manual, for now

The AXL is just a concept truck for now, although Scania says it doesn't rely on any technologies that aren't available today. It's powered by biofuel, and uses cameras, radars, laser beams, GPS and LiDAR to sense the world around it. There's a white light bar wrapped around the vehicle that shows where the truck has detected people or objects to avoid, giving people some degree of comfort that the machine has seen them and won't be rolling over the top of them.

Certainly, it's not ready for the chaotic environment of street driving, but the mining and closed construction sectors are much more predictable and controllable – not to mention bottom-line driven, and with self-drivers already in operation around the world, it's only a matter of time before we see the first cabless trucks begin rolling out commercially.

The video below is an in-depth discussion with the engineers and designers behind the AXL, and shows some of the design, build and testing phases.

The Making of Scania AXL – Autonomous Truck Documentary

Source: Scania

2 comments
BrianK56
That is an excellent place to test and develop self driving since it is a controlled environment.
rollzone
Hello. Astonishing it is, why still the cab forward steering design? All the electronicals could mount beneath the dump body between two further spread axles.