How about a driverless vehicle without an interior to sit in? Today when we think of autonomous vehicles, most of us imagine cars or trucks in which a driver could take control if needed or desired. But not all autonomous vehicles will even have a place for passengers to sit, let alone drive. An early, but very real, special purpose vehicle with no driver or passenger compartment is Komatsu’s latest robotic mining truck, as reported by New Atlas.
Komatsu’s Autonomous Haulage Systems (AHS) vehicles have been in trials in Chile and Australia since 2008 and in that time have hauled more than 1 billion U.S. tons of materials. The trucks so far, however, haven’t looked much different from conventional mining dump trucks. The models in use have wireless control and built-in obstacle detection, but they also have cabs — even though they don’t use drivers.
Komatsu’s newest design, however, the 2,700 horsepower, 49-foot-long, 27-foot-wide Innovative Autonomous Haulage Vehicle (IAHV), has dumped the cab. Without a cab in front, load distribution can be improved for better handling and tire wear along with greater hauling capacity.
The IAHV has four-wheel drive and four-wheel steering. It can operate and move equally well in both directions, which means no time, space, or slippage with big Y-turns. The monster robot truck can haul a payload of 230 metric tons and travel at a top speed of about 40 mph — more than fast enough for mining operations.
Komatsu unveiled the IAHV at the MINExpo International in Las Vegas, Nevada in late September. The company said it plans to offer the truck on the market in the near future. Komatsu said the goal of the truck is to improve productivity for mining operations where the driverless (and cab-less) vehicles work continuously in all weather conditions. The IAHV’s ability to travel straight back and forth will serve mining operations well where conditions are often slippery with limited loading and turning space.