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Komatsu's self-driving dump truck doesn't even have a cab

Engadget Engadget 29/09/2016 Sean Buckley
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Despite the dream of the self-driving car, most autonomous vehicles still have a steering wheel, giving passengers the option to take control at a moments notice. Komatsu's latest dump truck is a bit different -- it doesn't even have a cab for a human operator to sit in. The company calls it the Komatsu Innovative Autonomous Haulage Vehicle. It's a 2,700 horsepower autonomous truck designed to increase productivity by taking drivers out of the equation. Specifically, the company is trying to eliminate the three-point turn by developing a vehicle that doesn't need to see where it's going.

That may seem like an odd practice to eliminate, but it makes a lot of sense -- human drivers can only pilot a vehicle by looking out of the front window, requiring them to turn around once they get to a dump site to deposit materials. A self driving hauler doesn't have that setback: it can simply reverse course without turning. The autonomous design is also more balanced than a normal truck, with the load equally distributed on its four-wheel drive chassis. The company is hoping the balanced load will help the new hauler better negotiate slippery terrain.

The Innovative Autonomous Haulage Vehicle was only just unveiled in Vegas, but Komatsu says it's planning to get the rig on the market (and into mining operations) soon.


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