Volvo Construction Equipment has signed a contract for the first commercial pilot of its autonomous battery-electric hauler, as the company moves closer to industrialising the technology.
The trials will be conducted in early 2020 at a Swedish site operated by Harsco Environmental, a division of Harsco Corporation that provides on-site material processing and environmental services for the global metals industry.
Despite not yet being available to the market, the hauler is being heralded as the “next ground-breaking step in Volvo CE’s innovation journey”.
The pilot fleet is based on the company’s HX2 concept model, with the four updated machines beginning the year-long pilot program at the Swedish site in March 2020. They will be used in a repetitive transport application, which will test the full automation capabilities of the haulers, as well as other technologies such as batteries and driveline systems.
“We aim to raise the bar in what our machines can achieve for our customers, and this innovative commercial pilot represents the next phase of our journey into increased machine autonomy,” Volvo CE president Melker Jernberg said.
“By working alongside valued customers like Harsco Environmental, we are challenging our autonomous technology in demanding real world applications. Getting advanced prototypes into the hands of customers early also allows us to incorporate their feedback in the pre-production phase.
“This commercial pilot is an important next step in the process of industrialising this exciting future technology.”
Commercial pilot partner
Harsco Environmental is a division of Harsco Corporation, which is a US-based company providing environmental solutions for industrial and specialty waste streams, as well as technologies for the rail sector.
“We are delighted to partner with Volvo CE on this pilot,” Harsco Environmental chief operating officer Russ Mitchell said.
“Our participation represents the fulfillment of the promise we make to every Harsco Environmental customer: that we will always seek solutions that are both innovative and environmentally responsible.”
The pilot program follows Volvo CE’s announcement in March that all of its compact earthmoving machines produced from 2020 will feature electric engines.
It also follows the success of an earlier Electric Site system study to develop the world’s first “emission-free” quarry, in which Volvo CE sought to electrify each transport stage in a quarry from excavation to primary crushing and transport to secondary crushing.
This involved eight HX2 autonomous, battery-electric load carriers, which transported the material from the primary mobile crusher to the secondary static crusher.
The second generation prototypes incorporate technologies and components from across the Volvo Group, including a lithium ion battery to power two electric motors that drive the machine and an additional electric motor that drives the hydraulics.
CAPTION: An LX1 battery-electric wheel loader fills the HX1 concept hauler at Volvo CE’s Electric Site project at Vikan Kross Quarry. A US environmental solutions provider will now trial four more of the HX1s.