Automotive

Volvo's self-driving trucks get hired to cart limestone around a Norwegian mine

Volvo's self-driving trucks ge...
Test runs with human supervisors were completed at the Norwegian mine, before the keys were handed over to the computer for total autonomy
Test runs with human supervisors were completed at the Norwegian mine, before the keys were handed over to the computer for total autonomy
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Volvo’s self-driving truck program has already opened up some interesting possibilities
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Volvo’s self-driving truck program has already opened up some interesting possibilities
Volvo is now set to see how its robo-trucks fare in real-world scenarios, after inking its first commercial deal with a Norwegian resource company to cart limestone away from its mine
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Volvo is now set to see how its robo-trucks fare in real-world scenarios, after inking its first commercial deal with a Norwegian resource company to cart limestone away from its mine
Volvo's self-driving trucks will be used to ferry limestone away from a mine in Norway
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Volvo's self-driving trucks will be used to ferry limestone away from a mine in Norway
inside the cabin of one of Volvo’s self-driving trucks
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inside the cabin of one of Volvo’s self-driving trucks
Volvo’s self-driving trucks use an array of GPS, radar and LiDAR sensors to autonomously navigate their surroundings
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Volvo’s self-driving trucks use an array of GPS, radar and LiDAR sensors to autonomously navigate their surroundings
Test runs with human supervisors were completed at the Norwegian mine, before the keys were handed over to the computer for total autonomy
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Test runs with human supervisors were completed at the Norwegian mine, before the keys were handed over to the computer for total autonomy

Volvo's self-driving truck program has already opened up some interesting possibilities, with trials underway exploring autonomous sugar cane harvesting and garbage collection. The Swedish automaker is now set to see how its robo-trucks fare in real-world scenarios, after inking its first commercial deal with a Norwegian resource company to cart limestone away from its mine.

What's interesting about this deal is that rather than Brønnøy Kalk AS, a Norwegian calcium carbonate producer, buying Volvo's trucks outright, it is purchasing the end-to-end transport service. That means it will pay Volvo for every tone of limestone that it is able to deliver using six of the automaker's driverless trucks.

The route the trucks will travel is relatively short, covering just 5 km (3.1 mi), but not exactly straightforward. First the truck beds will be loaded up with limestone in the pit of the mine, before driving 100 m (330 ft) to the entrance of a 3.5 km (2.1 mi) -long tunnel .

Volvo’s self-driving trucks use an array of GPS, radar and LiDAR sensors to autonomously navigate their surroundings
Volvo’s self-driving trucks use an array of GPS, radar and LiDAR sensors to autonomously navigate their surroundings

The vehicles then have to navigate a second 800-m (2,600 ft) tunnel, before finally deploying its the load into a huge device on the water's edge where the material is crushed, poured onto a boat and shipped away.

Volvo's self-driving trucks use an array of GPS, radar and LiDAR sensors to autonomously navigate their surroundings. Test runs with human supervisors were completed at the Norwegian mine before the keys were handed over to the computer for total autonomy.

"It is exciting to reach this point where we introduce autonomous solutions," says Sasko Cuklev, Director Autonomous Solutions at Volvo Trucks. "By working in a confined area on a predetermined route, we can find out how to get the best out of the solution and tailor it according to specific customer needs. This is all about collaborating to develop new solutions, providing greater flexibility and efficiency as well as increased productivity."

You can see the trucks in action in the video below.

Source: Volvo Trucks

Volvo Trucks - Our first commercial autonomous transport solution

8 comments
guzmanchinky
Someday driving will be looked back upon as something as silly as we look back on hand crank starters today.
paul314
I would think tunnels would be pretty straightforward for autonomous vehicles to navigate. You know really well where the edges of the roadway are.
BrianK56
The day of autonomous vehicles is coming fast.
Malatrope
I had to notice that when the truck backed up to unload into the crusher it wasn't perpendicular. That is somewhat surprising, given that the geometry should have resulted in a perfect path under such a well-controlled environment.
AlBerard
Next will be a lithium battery powered self driving truck , they are coming.
Nik
This system should be good for town busses. No driver to get ratty, or tired, and fall asleep. No one to attack and rob either. Payment by prepaid card, as is common already. Long distance truckers, better start training for a new occupation, as mechanics, maybe?
Martin Hone
Self driving trucks have been used for years in Australian iron ore mines.
ljaques
I noticed the skewed angle for dropoff, too. I guess they don't use lidar to keep it parallel to the pit walls, which is kind of surprising. What if there were two trucks there? That one took up too much space. C'mon, Volvo. Where's your precision? Cool tech, though.