Komatsu recently unveiled its Innovative Autonomous Haulage Vehicle which aims to revitalize the dump truck industry at the MINExpo in Las Vegas. The new dump truck built by the Japanese equipment manufacturer is based on a revolutionary concept that altogether eliminates the driver’s cabin from the vehicle.
The main complexity involving dump trucks was the turns they had to make in difficult environs as the truck always needed to orient itself in the direction of the driver.
Semi-autonomous trucks have been operated for a very long time now in different areas of operations like mining and landfill sites but the driver’s cabin’s presence was ominous in them all much like the 930E model which is currently being used. The 930E model was highly capable of autonomous and unmanned operations as it involved a diverse set of innovative technologies like obstacle detection and remotely controlled access but it still looked like conventional trucks that continue to ply on the roads.
The newest product by Komatsu is different though as it completely revamps the design and enables better handling and maneuverability. The most innovative feature of this product is that it doesn’t need to turn, eliminating the necessary K-turns that conventional dump trucks need to take. There is no driver in this truck so it doesn’t need to specify its front and back. It can operate with ease going in both directions. Only when the payload is to be dumped does the truck need to align itself with the target area.
The reduction of the driver’s cabin has also allowed this truck to distribute its weight more evenly making it grip the surface more firmly, thereby increasing safety on difficult terrain and induce a better road grip in slippery weather conditions.
The truck is powered by 2700 hp engine and can reach speeds of up to 40 mph carrying loads in excess of 500,000 lbs. The truck can retain its top speed and performance whether going forward or back.
The four wheel chassis has been built to handle the weights in a more aligned manner reducing the pressure put on the rear and middle parts of the truck.
Tesla Motors, Uber, and Google, have all been trying to develop automated cars and trucks which would be run on deep learning and artificial intelligence based software at the helm of the controls but Komatsu has come up with a concept that looks far better and much more evolved to fit into the category of purely “driverless” vehicles.
Komatsu is yet to announce the release date for this autonomous dump truck and has indicated that it will be available in the market quite soon. The truck, however, will provide a boost to the beleaguered construction equipment global industry which has seen a huge downturn in fortunes since 2011, a trend which many expect will recede in 2017. The growth prediction for the next year is around 5%, according to a survey. If this truck goes on sale in 2017, then it could bring a change in the expected figure due to its improved features and ingenious design.