Swedish contractor Skanska is helping Volvo Construction Equipment develop a quarry operating entirely with autonomous electric vehicles, including one without a driving cab.
The test is taking place at Skanska’s Vikan Kross quarry near Gothenburg, which will switch to self-driving Volvo machines for 10 weeks.
If all goes to plan, the electric quarry is expected to deliver a 95% reduction in carbon emissions and a 25% reduction in total operating costs.
The site is being operated by three Volvo machines: the LX1 hybrid wheel loader, the HX2 battery powered carrier – which does not even have a driving cab – and the EX1 crawler extractor, which plugs in to the mains. The three types of machine are controlled by a site software system.
Together, they electrify each transport stage in a quarry, from excavation to primary crushing, transport and secondary crushing.
Volvo CE’s diagram of an electric quarry
Volvo has spent the past three years developing vehicles able to carry out excavation and transport, but this is the first time the concept has been brought together on a real site.
Uwe Muller, Volvo’s project manager for the initiative, said: "We’ve worked for such a long time on this, and there are so many things that need to come to work together to make it work. I believe in this concept because it’s the right thing to do and it’s the way towards the future."
Gunnar Hagman, the chief executive of Skanska Sweden, said: "This is the first time that anything like this has been attempted in the quarrying industry and, if successful, Electric Site could serve as a blueprint for transforming the efficiency, safety and environmental impact of quarries around the world."
A video of the site in operation can be seen here.
The €22m research is being supported by the Swedish Energy Agency, and academics at Sweden’s Linköping and MÃ¤lardalen universities.
Top image: An HX2 driverless carrier in operation (Volvo CE)