Komatsu's robotic mining truck completely dumps the driver
Komatsu's latest autonomous truck fully embraces the notion of unmanned operation by ditching the cabin and adopting a design that optimizes load distribution and doesn't distinguish between forwards and backwards.
Komatsu began trials of its Autonomous Haulage Systems (AHS) in a partnership with mining company Rio Tinto in 2008, and since then the technology has hauled hundreds of millions of tonnes of material in Chile and Australia's Pilbara region.
The autonomous haul trucks like the 930E model used by Rio Tinto incorporate controls, wireless networking and obstacle detection to enable unmanned operation, but they still look like conventional mining trucks complete with driver cabins.
The new 2,014-kW (2,700-hp), 15-m (49-ft) long and 8.5-meter (27-ft) wide "Innovative Autonomous Haulage Vehicle" takes things up a notch. The cabin is completely gone, allowing for a design that better distributes weight to all four wheels, and it uses four wheel drive and four wheel steering for better grip and maneuverability.
Without the need for a driver squinting in the rear view mirror, the truck is also designed to move as efficiently backwards as it does forwards, meaning no three point turns and therefore increased productivity and less wear and tear on the 59/80R63 tires. It can handle a payload of 230 metric tons and reaches a maximum speed of 64 km/h (40 mph).
The robot monster truck is being unveiled at Minexpo International in Las Vegas this week and Komatsu says it "plans a market introduction in the near future."
The video below is Komatsu's animation of the Innovative Autonomous Haulage Vehicle at work.