The Future Of Gold Rush? Volvo CE Unveils It Autonomous Electric Load Carrier HX2

MAR 30 2017 BY MARK KANE 16

Volvo Construction Equipment is developing whole lineup of autonomous vehicles, including hybrids and all-electric.

Volvo CE HX2

The all-electric load carrier concept HX1 (proof of concept) was unveiled in September 2016, and now Volvo CE proudly presents its next generation version HX2 .

“Volvo Construction Equipment presented the HX2 autonomous, battery-electric, load carrier at CONEXPO/CON-AGG 2017. The second-generation concept machine is part of an electric site research project that aims to transform the quarry and aggregates industry, by reducing carbon emissions by up to 95% and total cost of ownership by up to 25%.”

At this point, the technical specs have not been revealed, but it seems that the HX2 could work 24/7, with some undefined stops for recharge…abilities which could change the face of modern mining and landscape applications.  Of course the vehicle is also able to detect humans and obstacles in its vicinity

According to Uwe Müller, Volvo CE’s chief project manager for the electric site project, the HX2 is a completely new design, with technologies and components (such as electric motors, batteries and power electronics) shared from the Volvo Group.

After an upcoming pilot project, we expects that Volvo will expand offer with autonomous electric construction equipment around 2020.

Videos with Volvo CE HX1 and other autonomous Volvo Construction Equipment vehicles:

Press blast

Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) unveiled the HX2, the latest development in the company’s electric site solution, at CONEXPO/CON-AGG 2017. The prototype autonomous, battery-electric, load carrier is one element of an electric site research project that predicts up to a 95% reduction in carbon emissions and up to a 25% reduction in total cost of ownership. Volvo CE showcased the first-generation of the prototype HX machine, known as HX1, at the company’s Xploration Forum in September last year. Since then, Volvo CE’s engineers have been developing the machine. And while it may still look similar on the outside, it’s completely different on the inside.

“The HX2 is fundamentally different to the HX1,” says Uwe Müller, Volvo CE’s chief project manager for the electric site project. “The HX1 was proof of concept. Once we knew it was feasible we updated the design requirements for the HX2 to incorporate shared technologies and components from the Volvo Group, such as electric motors, batteries and power electronics. Integrating a completely new drivetrain was crucial to take full advantage of the groundbreaking electromobility developments that are happening inside the Volvo Group. Another new feature is the addition of a vision system, which allows the machine to detect humans and obstacles in its vicinity.”

A complete site solution
The electric site project aims to electrify a transport stage in a quarry – from excavation to primary crushing and transport to secondary crushing. It involves developing new machines, work methods and site management systems – together these things form a complete site solution. As well as a small fleet of HX2s, other prototype machines that make-up the electric site system includes a prototype electric hybrid wheel loader, and a grid-connected excavator. New technology encompasses machine and fleet control systems and logistic solutions for electric machines in quarries.

The LX1 is Volvo CE’s prototype electric hybrid wheel loader – it was also unveiled at the Xploration Forum last year. The machine can deliver up to a 50% improvement in fuel efficiency, as well as significant reductions in emissions and noise pollution compared to its conventional counterparts. It is currently being field tested in the U.S. by Volvo CE’s customer Waste Management – the largest environmental services and recycling company in North America. So far, feedback has been positive.

The LX1 is a ‘series hybrid’ that incorporates a driveline that consists of electric drive motors mounted at the wheels, electric driven hydraulics, an energy storage system, a significantly smaller diesel engine and new machine architecture, including a new design of the lifting unit. It’s this combination that enables the substantial gain in fuel efficiency. The prototype – which has 98% new parts and a fundamentally new machine design – can do the work of a wheel loader that’s one size larger.

Collaborating for a sustainable future
Volvo CE teamed up with its customer Skanska Sweden, the Swedish Energy Agency and two Swedish universities – Linköping University and Mälardalen University – in October 2015 to collaborate on the SEK 203 million project. Volvo CE is coordinating the project and is in charge of developing the machines and systems. Skanska Sweden is providing logistical solutions, application relevance and job site knowledge. The Swedish Energy Agency – a government agency for national energy policy issues – is helping to fund the project and the universities are carrying out research. Two PhD students are looking at battery aging and energy management for electric vehicles, as well as functional safety.

Skanska Sweden will incorporate the demonstration machines into its operations and test the electric site concept at a quarry in western Sweden for 10 weeks at the end of 2018. After this, Volvo CE will examine the project results to see if the concept is viable for the industry. Currently this work is just a research project, with no plans for industrialization at this stage.

“Volvo CE is committed to pushing boundaries and exploring the technology of the future,” says Jenny Elfsberg, director of emerging technologies at Volvo CE. “The HX2 and the electric site project demonstrate how Volvo CE wants to work with its customers early in the development phase to improve total site performance and sustainability, while also saving customers money. By integrating customers in the development process, we can design the best solution for a task, application and environment together. The concepts being developed in the electric site research project are part of Volvo CE’s long-term future vision, and they have the potential to transform the quarry and aggregates industry. By using electricity instead of diesel to power construction equipment in a quarry we have the potential to deliver significant reductions in fuel consumption, CO2 emissions, environmental impact and cost-per-tonne. The electrification of construction equipment will produce cleaner, quieter and more efficient machines – this represents the future of our industry.”

Categories: Trucks, Volvo


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16 Comments on "The Future Of Gold Rush? Volvo CE Unveils It Autonomous Electric Load Carrier HX2"

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Interesting in an Uranium mine, in Greenland extreme cold operation, perhaps on Mars or Venus as well.

Mars, yes, Venus, no.
The sulfuric acid rain, and atmospheric pressure would destroy it in short order.

Appropriate materials can be selected and electric circuits have some solutions as well.

Beside Maxwell Montes is already at half the pressure and 100°C lower in temperature. A big difference that allow special plastics.

I know the Gold Rush references are in jest, but Volvo should really reach out to the producers of Gold Rush and see about utilizing the tech on the show, I think it would be a great way to help automated driving acceptance and EV acceptance. On top of that for Volvo it would be great marketing.

I don’t think much of most “reality TV” shows, but I am a faithful watcher of “Gold Rush”. I assume that the references here to seeing an EV or hybrid heavy construction/ earth-moving equipment on the show are jokes, as Paul Stoller already said. If there is any place where it’s not going to work to put a heavy vehicle on an EV charger for several hours a day, it’s in remote areas of the Yukon, far from any high-tension electric power lines. I’m not even sure those mining sites have any connection to the grid a all; they may all be using diesel generators to provide electric power to their cabins and motor homes. Even if they could find a power hookup, those operations sometimes run both a day and night shift. Nobody buying multi-million-dollar vehicles for those companies is going to invest in one that has to be out of service, sitting on a charger, for several hours out of every 24. And that’s even assuming that the battery pack would power it for a 12-hour work day, which I also think is unlikely. Heavy equipment used hard needs a lot of power, and a battery pack of… Read more »

I think you bring up good points, although I do think that specifically rock hauling would be were something like this could work first, I’m certain you would have problems with the excavators or bulldozers with their much higher power needs. Fuel and labor costs can really eat into the profitability of mining, especially gold mining on marginal ground. If the costs work out it’s possible you might be able to use a pair of these where you might have once used one with at traditional rock truck, one is working while one is charging. All that being said the tech may still be too immature but I will say this when we can power heavy equipment with batteries that work in these environments we will probably be able to go electric just about anywhere.


I think sometimes you take things too seriously, heeh – it was mostly for fun, or a “imagine if”/public awareness scenario…if you will.

But in actual fact…hydro power. It’s plentiful (even moreso regionally, and in warmer mining season/areas). A quarter of Alaska’s power is generated from it..many small communities have small hydro projects to avoid costly diesel production, and there is a ton more potential.

Most mining sites have access to water/flowing resources of some kind, so I don’t think it is out of the question to at least have fuel offsets on the hauling aspect. The stumbling block is the lack of available electrified heavy equipment (not so much with these types of new products), and of course the actual initial cost of machinery.

“I think sometimes you take things too seriously, heeh”

To quote Monty Python: “It’s a fair cop, but society’s to blame.” 😛

“There’s a dead bishop on the landing, dad”

Tattoo on the back of the neck.

Paul Stoller said: “Fuel and labor costs can really eat into the profitability of mining, especially gold mining on marginal ground.” Absolutely true. But then, you could say the same about long-distance freight trucking: About half an independent trucker’s costs are in fuel. Yes, converting these to BEVs would indeed save an enormous amount of money. But consider the difficulty: The fact that they’re using so much fuel per day is an indication of how much energy it takes to power them each day. And the more fuel they need, the bigger the battery pack it would take to replace that fuel, and the more electrical power it would take to charge the battery pack. Passenger car EVs are quite limited in the amount of energy they can carry in their battery packs. That’s why EV makers go to such extremes in streamlining, and in finding ways to reduce the amount of energy drain for heating the cabin, by using heated steering wheels and seats instead, or by using a heat pump instead of a traditional resistive ceramic core heater. If battery packs were not so limited in how much energy they can store, then makers of BEV passenger cars… Read more »

In Europe a bus or truck driver can only drive for max 4,5 hours before taking a 45 minute break. Thats about what you can do with a Tesla. If a truck uses 8 times more fuel than a car you could remove the engine and gearbox and add 8 Tesla batteries. You could either have new bigger fast chargers or just use their existing fast chargers, one for each battery pack. As long as Fast chargers are installed on suitable locations it should work.

“Oh, so little faith”


Considering that electric power on site mention, I wonder if it would not be more economic to drop a few wind generators and let them deliver their power to charging battery packs while some other is in use on those vehicles. With enough packs to account for low wind moments, such a system could provide a 24/7 operation capability in the middle of nowhere. No fuel needed and completely green and automatic. You just come to collect the ingots from time to time.

Just my 2 cent.

There is one type of heavy construction/ mining equipment EV: a dragline excavator. It is provided with electric power by a cable which it drags behind it.

Obviously dragline excavator EVs don’t travel very far in a day! But that is one way to get around the problem of large heavy machines doing hard work requiring far too much energy for a day’s work for all of it — or even half of it — to be stored in a battery pack.

From Wikipedia:

Big Muskie was powered by electricity supplied at 13,800 volts via a trailing cable, which had its own transporter/coiling units to move it. The electricity powered the main drives, eighteen 1,000 horsepower (750 kW) and ten 625 horsepower (466 kW) DC electric motors. Some systems in Big Muskie were electro-hydraulic, but the main drives were all electric. While working, Big Muskie used the equivalent of the power for 27,500 homes, costing tens of thousands of dollars an hour just in power costs and necessitating special agreements with local Ohio power companies to accommodate the extra load.

Construction equipment is currently diesel and one of the major air polluters of things like nitrous oxides and soot … causing lung diseases like asthma, emphysema and asbestosis … also links to dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Conversion to clean, electric construction equipment can’t come to soon for me and my grandchildren since we all have asthma from diesel and coal emissions.