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Volvo truck driving solo in Norwegian mine

Mining trucks could become the unmanned drones of the land if Volvo’s removal of the safety driver from an active commercial mining operation in Norway proves viable

Taking the human element out of the safety equation in a limestone mine in Norway is breaking new ground on the automation of the transportation task.

Volvo Autonomous Solutions (V.A.S.) have provided seven fully autonomous Volvo FH trucks to mining business Brönnöy Kalk for use in tough conditions at their limestone mine in Velfjord.

The trucks operate in challenging conditions that include steep inclines, extreme weather and long stretches of dark tunnels, dragging limestone from the mine to the crusher.

“A long-held vision is now a reality. Removing the safety driver in an active commercial transport operation in some of the world’s most challenging conditions is a major leap for the industry,” says Nils Jaeger, president of Volvo Autonomous Solutions.

“With this milestone we are underlining our leadership in autonomous driving and paving the way for safer and more efficient future for the mining and quarrying industries.”

Brönnöy Kalk’s managing director Raymond Langfjord says the move to greater automation is a big step forward for the business.

“We implemented autonomous trucks for several reasons — safety, efficiency and flexibility.

Driverless trucks are hauling limestone to the crushers in Norway

“With the removal of the safety driver we can now truly reap these benefits and increase our competitiveness in this tough industry.”

Work on the project started in 2018 with a business model that allows companies such as

Brönnöy Kalk to buy autonomous capacity from V.A.S. rather than buying a truck or a machine.

V.A.S. head of solutions for mining and quarry, Sven-Erik Gustafsson, says the business model makes it more attractive for customers to try the technology.

“While autonomy brings unprecedented benefits to the industry, incorporating new technologies into existing operations can be a daunting challenge for many customers.

“By providing a complete solution that encompasses everything from software to site infrastructure to training to operations, we are able to reduce complexity for customers like Brönnöy Kalk and enable them to be a part of the autonomous future.”

The seven Volvo FH Trucks are operated by a V.A.S. in-house developed virtual driver to operate over a five-kilometre path with the wheel loader operator using a touch screen in the wheel loader to call the trucks for loading and to manage the operation.

 

 

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