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Komatsu’s New Dump Truck Takes a Turn for the Autonomous

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Komatsu Self-driving dump truck

As workers in construction sites and drivers of large trucks around the world know, one of the biggest pains of driving heavy machinery is maneuvering. One of the best examples of this is in the case of a huge strip mine—large dump trucks line up to be filled with spoil to carry out, but once the truck is full, the driver needs a considerable amount of space to turn that mechanical behemoth around to go back up the hill, where after dumping the load the truck needs to take further time and space to turn around and go back down.

These time and space problems, it turns out, are easily removed if you simply don’t have a person driving. Behold, in a concept video right from the 80s, Komatsu’s Innovative Autonomous Haulage Vehicle.

Okay, so those random blue arrows aren’t really very helpful to telling you exactly what is going on, here. What Komatsu is trying to say is that this vehicle, after dumping its payload, can simply drive “forward” to the loading site, where it picks up a payload, which is maximized due to the truck’s weight being evenly distributed among all four wheels. Then, the truck can simply rotate its wheels the other way to trek its slow, laborious way out of the hole using what appears to be 4-wheel drive—no need to turn around at either end. Four-wheel steering allows the vehicle to operate equally well in either direction, creating a dump truck that saves time and effort without ever needing a break to use the bathroom.

And, if that video was any indication, there are even some sort of regenerative brakes in play.

News Source: Gizmodo