One system from a single supplier provides everything needed for industrial vehicle autonomy
VEHICLE automation providers ABD Solutions, a member of the AB Dynamics Group, have launched Indigo Drive, a software eco-system that enables any mining vehicle to be quickly and cost-effectively automated.
‘What sets Indigo Drive apart is that it can be installed into vehicles already in use, so autonomy can be achieved much faster and requires significantly less investment than by replacing the entire fleet,’ said Matthew Price, managing director of ABD Solutions.
‘Driverless vehicles enable site operations to become more streamlined by removing downtime and delays caused by staff shortages and ensuring continuity of projects. The industry also becomes safer by limiting driver exposure to extreme and dangerous environments.’
Secure and certified, as a comprehensive system Indigo Drive contains everything needed to create driverless fleets. From a user-friendly software interface for route-planning to the technology needed to create movement (such as drive-by-wire and driving robots), to communication (Radio, V2X, GPS/GNSS), obstacle detection (LiDAR, camera, radar) and vehicle health and diagnostics (OBD2, telemetry, sensors), what is included can be tailored around specific vehicles and environments.
The modular architecture allows for easy integration with systems already in use, such as fleet-management software, meaning creating driverless fleets can be faster and smoother than ever before.
As well as improving safety, automation significantly increases productivity by enabling vehicles to operate for longer. It also provides a considerable reduction in fuel consumption and emissions, which has running cost and environmental benefits.
Mr Price added: ‘We work with our customers to provide tailored systems for their environment by assessing the level and type of automation required, enabling fleet transformation without investment in new vehicles, maximizing the return on existing high-value assets.’
The hardware used to provide automation requires only minor modifications to the vehicle and is semi-permanent, allowing it to be moved from one vehicle to another should requirements change, or if the vehicle needs maintenance. The equipment is non-intrusive to allow a driver to take control while it is fitted, significantly increasing the vehicle’s operational flexibility.
In an extractive environment where tasks are often repetitive, the entire fleet can be synchronized to maximize productivity and efficiency. Task planning software ensures that vehicles take the most efficient routes, reducing both fuel consumption and time to complete operations. Vehicles that can detect obstructions can communicate them to the fleet-management system to prevent others from encountering the same issue. Once the obstruction has been flagged the vehicle-management system can generate an alternative route or a human can remote into the vehicle to immediately assess the situation.
A critical indirect benefit of vehicle autonomy is the digitization of information from the vehicle. It creates new data streams that are invaluable to fleet operators. The vehicle’s speed, location, fuel level, diagnostic status, distance to target etc can all be relayed via the vehicle-management toolset. Data analytics can automatically process this information to assist with operational decisions, fleet maintenance scheduling, and logistics planning.
‘The AB Dynamics Group has been automating vehicles in one way or another for development and test purposes for decades,’ continued Mr Price. ‘Now, through ABD Solutions and the development of Indigo Drive, the mining industry can take advantage of this expertise to automate their existing fleets.’
ABD Solutions will be attending bauma 2022, the world’s leading construction machinery trade fair, in Munich, Germany, from 24–30 October.