Automation and traction control of articulated vehicles

Sammanfattning: Articulated machines such as load-haul-dump machines, wheel loaders and haulers operate in many different environments and driving conditions. In particular they need to be able to perform well with road conditions and loads that can change drastically, setting hard requirements on performances and robustness. The control challenges for off-road vehicles are hence quite different from standard cars or trucks, which mostly drive on regular roads. An important aspect characterising this is the fact that wheel slip may cause severe damage to the wheels and ground. Particularly, tyre lifespan is a serious problem since for instance in a modern hauler the tyres often represents 20%-25% of a hauler overall operating cost. Better traction control algorithms can strongly contribute to reducing tyre wear and hence operating costs.Increasing fuel prices and increasing environmental awareness have influenced all the main vehicle manufacturers so that the commitment towards less fuel consumption has become one of the main goals for development. During the last few years’ hybrid vehicles have been vigorously developed. For wheel loaders, in particular, the series hybrid concept seems to be suitable whereby a diesel engine generates electricity for a battery that serves as the power source of the individual wheel motors, enabling regenerative braking as well as partial recovery of the energy necessary to lift the load. Hence, traction control algorithms should be adapted for use with individual wheel drives.Load-haul-dump machines, wheel loaders and haulers are sometimes used in cyclic operations in isolated areas, which is a typical driver for automation. The use of the loadhaul-dump machine in underground hard rock mines such as iron ore mines is one example where the conditions for automation are excellent. The working conditions for a driver in the cabin are monotone. The working conditions are improved by moving the driver from the machine to a control room and alternate between different remote operations, for instance between load-haul-dump machines and remote controlled rock breaker. Moving the driver from the cabin to the control room also have a positive effect on the personnel costs since one operator can handle several machines.However, for the automation to be successful, the cycle time and loading capacity of an automated machine has to match a manual machine operated by skilled drivers. A challenge is the remote bucket filling, where traditional tele remote loading is based only on slightly delayed video feedback from the machine. This is in sharp contrast to the manual loading where the driver close the loop based on non-delayed 3D vision of the machine relative the pile as well as listening to the noise and sensing the vibrations of the machine.