Here at Transport Evolved, our motto is ‘Cleaner, Greener, Smarter, Safer.’ That’s because we’re interested in technology that not only makes our everyday transportation better for our health and the world around us, but technology that improves our quality of travel while keeping us safer, too.
For the most part, that’s meant covering things like plug-in vehicles, hydrogen fuel cell technology, advanced safety technologies and self-driving cars — and their integration into the private and fleet road-legal vehicle market.
What we haven’t covered until now is industrial machinery, but that’s about to change thanks to a new partnership between Japanese automaker Nissan and Hitachi Construction Machinery Company.
As we’ve pointed out numerous times before, advanced safety technologies like blind spot assist, 360 degree camera systems and pedestrian detection have already helped to make our cars safer. If companies like Nissan, Tesla Motors, GM, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Volvo are to be believed — and we have no reason to doubt them — future advancements in active safety technologies and self-driving systems will make cars even safer.
But that same technology can be used to make industrial machinery safer, specifically the massive ‘haul’ or ‘super dump’ trucks used by construction companies and mining operations around the world.
With tires more than twice the average hight of an adult and payloads in excess of 400 tons, these massive diesel-electric workhorses aren’t road legal in any way. Like any road-going vehicle however, operator visibility is key to avoiding some rather nasty accidents.
Traditionally, drivers of these monster machines have relied on three or more pairs of mirrors to correctly locate their vehicle, often working in tandem with a radio operator on the ground to help with backing up or intricate manoeuvres. This is particularly important when dealing with close-by objects, since from their high vantage point, the driver can’t see the ground immediately in front of, beside, or behind the vehicle.
Now, Nissan has licensed the same around view technology found in cars like the Nissan LEAF to Hitachi Construction Machinery Company — along with Moving Object Detection technology — to help these monster trucks stay safe on busy industrial sites.
Eventually, Nissan says the same technology could be used to give these monster mining trucks semi- or fully-autonomous capabilities.
For now, the technology is being used to give dump truck drivers true around-view capabilities for the first time, helping them detect everything from a co-worker standing too close to the truck, a piece of debris in the way, or even a parked car that’s too small to see from way up in the cab. Eventually Nissan says, the same technology could lead to self-driving heavy machinery.
And if that helps reduce the numbers of fatal or serious accidents at large construction or mining operations around the world, we think that’s a great thing.
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