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Volvo CE unveils futuristic equipment prototypes

Volvo Construction Equipment reveals innovations in the fields of autonomy and electric drive at its Xploration Forum in Eskilstuna, Sweden

The LX1 prototype hybrid wheel loader fills the prototype HX1 autonomous, battery-electric, driverless hauler.
The LX1 prototype hybrid wheel loader fills the prototype HX1 autonomous, battery-electric, driverless hauler.

Volvo Construction Equipment (CE) has unveiled several previously covert and futuristic equipment prototypes and innovations from its Concept Lab in an ‘Xploration Forum’ in Eskilstuna, Sweden.

The innovations divulged included autonomous machines, a hybrid wheel loader that cuts fuel consumption by 50% and a radical autonomous electric solution specifically for quarry sites.

In the first of three demonstrations, Jenny Elfsberg, director of emerging technologies at Volvo CE, demonstrated a prototype autonomous L120 wheel loader that filled a prototype autonomous A25F articulated hauler.

In tests at an asphalt plant in Sweden, the team has already found that the autonomous wheel loader can achieve 70% of the productivity of a benchmarked skilled operator.

Elfsberg noted: “The machines can perform the same task over and over again, along a fixed route, for a relatively long period of time. We are working on developing solutions that have the required safety and performance levels that the market will accept.”

Next up, Scott Young, ‘electromobility’ programme manager at Volvo CE, presented the company’s prototype hybrid-electric wheel loader — an overhauled machine that can deliver up to a 50% improvement in fuel efficiency.

Known as the LX1, the loader achieves this with individual electric drive motors mounted directly at the wheels, electric hydraulics, an energy storage system, a significantly smaller diesel engine for recharging the battery.

The prototype — which has 98% new parts and a fundamentally new machine design — is also capable of doing the work of a conventional wheel loader a category larger than itself and offers a significant reduction in both emissions and noise pollution compared to its conventional counterparts.

However, perhaps the most dramatic of Volvo’s reveals was its conceptual development of a quarry solution that incorporates its latest developments in both autonomy and electric drive: an autonomous, battery-electric, driverless hauler called the HX1.

In partnership with the Swedish Energy Agency, Volvo CE’s ‘electric site’ project aims to transform the future of the quarry and aggregates industry by reducing carbon emissions by up to 95% and total cost of ownership by up to 25%.

“This research project is a step towards transforming the quarry and aggregates industry,” said Johan Sjöberg, technical specialist in site automation 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-tonne.”

Martin Weissburg, president of Volvo CE, added: “We are developing technologies connected to electromobility, intelligent machines and total site solutions that will benefit our customers and the environment and play an important part in building a sustainable society.”

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Construction Week - Issue 751
Oct 13, 2019