Volvo vehicle drives around Swedish mine.
Volvo has said that it has developed the world’s first self-driving truck able to work deep underground.
The truck is part of efforts by the automaker to improve transport flow and safety down a mine.
The autonomous vehicle has been tested in the Kristineberg Mine, 100 kilometres from Arvidsjaur in northern Sweden. The truck covers a distance of 7km, reaching 1,320 metres underground in the narrow mine tunnels.
Continuous monitoring for Volvo
The truck, a specially equipped Volvo FMX, uses various sensors to continuously monitor its surroundings and avoid both fixed and moving obstacles. At the same time, an on-board transport system gathers data to optimise and coordinate the route and fuel consumption. The truck is part of a development project and is being tested in real-life operation for the very first time.
A video shows the truck working in tough conditions in the mine, which is 4000 feet below ground. It also features an executive of the company playing chicken with the truck. There is no driver behind the wheel, despite the truck turning, slowing down and speeding up.
The truck stops inches from Torbjörn Holmström, member of the Volvo Group Executive Board and Volvo Group chief technology officer.
“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,” said Holmström.
“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!”
While the truck is still a concept, it hopes to roll out a fleet of them in the future.