Volvo Construction Equipment (CE) has developed an autonomous battery-electric load carrier called HX2, part of a research project that aims to electrify the transport stage in a quarry, reducing carbon emissions by up to 95% and total cost of ownership by up to 25%.
Volvo CE customer Skanska Sweden will test several prototype electric and autonomous vehicles at a quarry in Sweden for 10 weeks at the end of 2018. Volvo CE will examine the project results to determine if the concept is viable for the industry.
A small fleet of HX2s will haul rocks around the quarry, along with other prototype machines, including a hybrid wheel loader called LX1. The LX1, which is currently being field-tested in the US by Volvo CE’s customer Waste Management, is a series hybrid with wheel-mounted electric motors, electrically driven hydraulics, an energy storage system, and a significantly smaller diesel engine than traditional wheel loaders. Volvo says it can deliver up to a 50% improvement in fuel efficiency, as well as significant reductions in emissions and noise pollution.
Volvo CE proved the concept of an autonomous load carrier with an earlier machine called HX1. “Once we knew it was feasible we updated the design requirements for the HX2 to incorporate shared technologies and components from the Volvo Group, such as electric motors, batteries and power electronics,” said Uwe Müller, Volvo CE’s Chief Project Manager for the electric site project. “Integrating a completely new drivetrain was crucial to take full advantage of the groundbreaking electromobility developments that are happening inside the Volvo Group. Another new feature is the addition of a vision system, which allows the machine to detect humans and obstacles in its vicinity.”
“The concepts being developed in the electric site research project have the potential to transform the quarry and aggregates industry,” says Jenny Elfsberg, Director of Emerging Technologies at Volvo CE. “By using electricity instead of diesel to power construction equipment in a quarry we have the potential to deliver significant reductions in fuel consumption, CO2 emissions, environmental impact and cost-per-ton. The electrification of construction equipment will produce cleaner, quieter and more efficient machines.”