Volvo has claimed a world first by testing a fully autonomous truck in a working mine some 1300 metres underground in northern Sweden.
The Volvo FMX truck is part of a development project aimed at improving the transport flow and safety in the Kristineberg Mine, 60 miles from Arvidsjaur in northern Sweden. The truck will cover a distance of 4.3 miles, reaching 1320 metres underground in narrow tunnels.
“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 Torbjörn Holmström, chief technology officer, Volvo Group.
“It’s still a concept truck, but we’re now testing it in real-life operations,” said Holmström. “This will truly change the mining industry. It will make it more productive, more sustainable and safer. And it is just the beginning - all industries will be influenced in the future.”
The truck uses laser scanners on each corner, meaning that all areas of the truck has overlapping sensor cover. It can continuously monitor its surroundings and avoid both fixed and moving obstacles.
Wherever an obstacle is positioned, at least two and sometimes three of the truck's sensors will see it, which Holmström has proven by standing in the middle of a road in the poorly lit mine as the truck approached him and then successfully applied its brakes.