Volvo has developed an autonomous electric wheel loader and a hauler, the latter being tested in a Swiss Holcim limestone quarry.
The LX03 loader is the first real world example of a self-learning concept wheel loader, with the ability to make decisions and interact with humans.
The design was inspired by a LEGO Technic model – also the first time this has been turned into a real world machine.
Volvo Construction Equipment president Melker Jernberg said advancements like this were a necessity for the safety and productivity of the industry.
“We need to transform the construction industry with smart and more sustainable solutions that will have an impact on a global scale,” Jernberg said.
“The unveiling of the LX03 prototype today represents just that – and is testament to the incredible expertise of our engineers and our united commitment towards positive change.”
It is hoped the loader will become commercially available as soon as possible, as Volvo engineers and experts understand the flaws and safety requirements into the near future.
The autonomous electric hauler was developed in partnership by Volvo Autonomous Solutions and Holcim Switzerland, leading to a trial in Holcim’s Gabenchopf Quarry.
The hauler is designed to be quieter, and more environmentally sustainable, becoming the world’s first commercially available CE-certified (a European regulation) electric, autonomous transport solution for quarrying.
Volvo Autonomous Solutions president Nils Jaeger said this hauler represented the best of the company’s ambitions.
“This project showcases a sustainable transport solution that is commercially viable and combines the technology shifts of connectivity, automation and electrification,” Jaeger said.
“Through a strong partnership with Holcim Switzerland this will happen in a real environment driven by two committed companies dedicated to jointly presenting the future.”
Holcim Switzerland and Italy chief executive officer Simon Kronenberg said it was one of many initiatives Holcim had engaged in to lower emissions.
“Our participation in this project represents another step towards fulfilling our sustainability objectives: we seek solutions that are both innovative and environmentally responsible and we are constantly investing in measures to reduce our ecological footprint in order to help build a sustainable future,” Kronenberg said.
In September, Holcim upgraded its emissions reductions target to have a net positive impact on biodiversity by 2030.
This will be made possible by all Holcim-owned quarries establishing rehabilitation plans by 2022, including Holcim’s 250 sites across Australia.
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