Volvo Building Autonomous Truck That Can Travel Through Deep Underground Mines

Volvo is testing a fully autonomous truck in a deep underground mine, marking the first time a self-driving vehicle has functioned in the tough conditions of a mine.

The self-driving truck is part of a development project aimed at improving the transport flow and safety in the Kristineberg Mine. It will cover a distance of 7 kilometres, reaching 1,320 metres underground in the narrow mine tunnels.

“This is the world’s first fully self-driving truck to operate under such tough conditions. It is a true challenge to ensure that everything works meticulously more than 1300 metres underground,” says Torbjörn Holmström, member of the Volvo Group Executive Board and Volvo Group Chief Technology Officer.

Using various sensors, the  specially equipped Volvo FMX continuously monitors its surroundings and avoids both fixed and moving obstacles. At the same time, an on-board transport system gathers data to optimize and coordinate the route and fuel consumption. The truck is part of a development project and is being tested in real-life operation for the very first time.

Volvo says it is building a “technology platform” versus a “specific functionality solution,” suggesting their autonomous truck is expected to have many use cases beyond mining once complete.