Smart Cities

Autonomous trucks made by Volvo will soon be hauling stone out of a Norwegian limestone mine, the car firm has announced.

What it’ll deliver: Six autonomous trucks will transport limestone the five-kilometer (three-mile) route through tunnels between a mine owned by local firm Brønnøy Kalk AS and a processing facility at a nearby port. Brønnøy Kalk is buying a service rather than the trucks themselves, so Volvo will oversee the technology throughout and be paid per ton delivered.

Testing, testing: The service is currently being tested and is expected to be fully up and running by the end of 2019. During the tests a safety driver will sit behind the wheel, but the trucks will be completely autonomous when they’re officially launched. They will be managed from the outside by an operator.

Gradual progress: This isn’t the first driverless-truck operation. Rio Tinto’s gigantic autonomous trucks currently haul metal ore at the firm’s mines in western Australia. Volvo has also been involved in autonomous-truck projects involving mining, sugarcane harvesting, and refuse collection. We’re likely to see driverless trucks on the road long before driverless cars, partly because they tend to drive more on open roads than in cities, which involve more complex variables. Trucking also benefits more from the sheer economic logic of deploying technology that doesn’t need to rest or take breaks, unlike humans.