Autonomous vehicles continue to be developed by various manufactures for difficult and high safety risk conditions.
Volvo FMX trucks will be tested in regular operations at a mine in Sweden. The aim is to determine how this technology can improve safety and productivity in tough geographic areas. Volvo indicates that this is the first time that self-driving trucks are being tested in regular operations underground. The vehicles used in the mine are series-built Volvo FMX trucks equipped with functionalities that include a system incorporating radar/laser-based sensors. This system is initially used to monitor the mine's geometry and to generate a map of the route that the truck has to follow. The collected information is then used to regulate the vehicle's steering, gear changes and speed. 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.
Due to precise route planning and steady speed there will be no congestion and it is possible to cut loading and unloading times. During blasting operations, drivers must usually wait until the mine gallery has been ventilated before the ore can be loaded, but with self-driving trucks there are no such restrictions. All this means that each truck can be utilised more efficiently and can carry out more transport assignments per shift. The vehicles become an integrated part of the mine's overall production system. Smoother transport flow and steadier speeds also provide lower fuel consumption and less wear and tear.
To ensure a safe operation; if an obstacle appears near the truck, the vehicle stops automatically and the transport management centre is alerted. Of the six sensors included in the system, there are always two that monitor the same part of the truck's surroundings. If a fault occurs with the truck, it can be remotely operated from the transport management centre. Source: http://www.volvotrucks.com/en-en/news-stories/press-release.html?pubid=20890