Since 1911, Scania, a Sweden-based manufacturer, has been building heavy vehicles and buses. All that experience and history has brought the company to a point where they are developing an autonomous dump truck that is truly massive. Dubbed the AXL, the concept truck will be able to fill a plethora of on-site heavy duty applications—all without a driver, including a safety driver.
“We already have self-driving trucks in customer operations,” states Scania’s Head of Research and Development, Claes Erixon. “However so far, they have been with room for a safety driver who can intervene if necessary. Scania AXL does not have a cab and that changes the game significantly. The development in self-driving vehicles has made great strides in the past years. We still don’t have all the answers, but through concept vehicles like Scania AXL we break new ground and continue to learn at great speed.”
While the thought of an autonomous vehicle driving around on the roads might be concerning, heavy-duty vehicles like the AXL typically drive in set paths that rarely change. Additionally, these vehicles are often sent into dangerous areas, such as mines or closed construction sites, so an autonomous vehicle actually increases safety.
Logistics software could be used to control fleets of the trucks, defining routes and tasks. And since these fleets would not be operating on roads, Scania won’t have to wait on rules to change regarding using autonomous vehicles on public streets.
The Scania AXL is powered by biodiesel—a differentiator between it and other autonomous vehicles which usually opt for electric systems. Scania has been testing prototypes of the autonomous truck in conjunction with Rio Tinto since August 2018 in an Australian mine. Considering the announcement of the concept truck, testing must be going well, especially considering that Scania is also moving forward with plans for an autonomous electric bus for Stockholm.
Scania also announced its NXT concept, another autonomous vehicle that can be configured as either a bus or a cargo van.