a fully autonomous concept truck
Introducing the latest member of our autonomous family: Scania AXL, a fully autonomous concept truck, without a cab.
In what is another milestone in the development of heavy self-driving vehicles, a group of Scania experts in different fields have teamed up and developed a concept truck, which, even without the cab, has the company’s modular system at the heart of the design.
As different industries look to streamline transport assignments and make them more sustainable, self-driving vehicles are increasingly being considered. Mines and large closed construction sites are examples of environments that are favourable for self-driving pilots since they are well-controlled locations.
A significant step towards the transport of the future
With the Scania AXL concept truck, we are taking a significant step towards the smart transport systems of the future, where self-driving vehicles will play a natural part. We continue to build and pilot concepts to demonstrate what we can do with the technology that is available today.
For autonomous vehicles, software is in many ways more important than hardware. Scania AXL is steered and monitored by an intelligent control environment. In mines, for example, the autonomous operations are facilitated by a logistics system that tells the vehicle how it should perform.
“We already have self-driving trucks in customer operations. However so far, they have been with room for a safety driver who can intervene if necessary. Scania AXL does not have a cab and that changes the game significantly,” says Claes Erixon, Head of Research and Development at Scania. “The development in self-driving vehicles has made great strides in the past years. We still don’t have all the answers, but through concept vehicles like Scania AXL we break new ground and continue to learn at great speed.”
The combustion engine that powers the concept vehicle is an example of how traditional and new technology is mixed. It is advantageously powered by renewable biofuel.
The robust and powerful features and design behind Scania AXL match the tougher environments in mines and large construction sites. A new intelligent front module replaces the traditional cab, but even without a cab the concept is easily recognisable as a Scania.
Meet the engineers
In many respects, the engineers entrusted with developing the concept truck Scania AXL entered uncharted territory. For most, building the autonomous truck has been the greatest challenge of their professional lives.
“We’ve learned a lot and I believe there now is the widespread insight that it is much harder than many initially realised to develop a safe self-driving vehicle for varying applications in different environments,” says Eric Falkgrim, Project Manager for Scania AXL.
Development Engineer Magnus Granström was one of those developing the software for the front module. “In software terms, the greatest challenge has been to ensure that the concept truck is sufficiently safe to be driven without a steering wheel. In essence, the steering wheel has been the precaution through which a driver can intervene if something goes wrong. When we don’t have that, the system must simply work perfectly,” he says.
Development Engineer Carl Wettergren has been involved throughout the Scania AXL project. “One of the early issues was to what extent the front module could be subjected to motion. The aim was for the cameras and sensors to be built into the module and we had lengthy discussions how these would connect with the chassis.”
Senior Mechanic Pierre Jacobsson says that during its development, Scania AXL was sometimes hoisted into axle stands to prevent the truck from moving uncontrolled. He’s delighted with the end product.
“Two years ago, we saw some rough sketches of what the truck might look like and it seemed very strange. This was something completely new for us. But the result is far cooler than that. It’s bold, really bold.”