Göteborg, Sweden – While regulators on public roads work out rules for autonomous vehicles, Volvo Trucks is looking underground for applications. The truck maker will produce autonomous vehicles for Norwegian mining company Brønnøy Kalk AS in to transport limestone from an open pit mine to a nearby port.
Six autonomous Volvo FH trucks will travel a 5km stretch through tunnels between the mine itself and the crusher. Tests of this solution have been carried out successfully and will continue throughout 2018 to become fully operational by the end of 2019.
The agreement follows recent successful automation projects involving mining, sugar cane harvesting, and refuse collection. Rather than purchasing autonomous trucks, Brønnøy Kalk is buying a transport solution.
“This is an important step for us," says Raymond Langfjord, Managing Director of the mine. "The competition in the industry is tough. We are continuously looking to increase our efficiency and productivity long-term, and we have a clear vision of taking advantage of new opportunities in technology and digital solutions.”
Sasko Cuklev, director of autonomous solutions at Volvo Trucks, said, “By working in a confined area on a predetermined route, we can find out how to get the best out of the solution and tailor it according to specific customer needs. This is all about collaborating to develop new solutions, providing greater flexibility and efficiency as well as increased productivity."
The agreement calls for Brønnøy Kalk to pay by ton of material delivered, not a set list of hardware.