KAMAZ is going to lay a pilot route of in-plant logistics transportation on which cabs from the press and stamping plant will be carried by unmanned trucks to the automobile plant of the company.
Not for nothing is the project called Odyssey: the self-driving vehicle is designed to leave and return to the same place. It will run on the existing intra-factory roads of KAMAZ. It's planned to build a post for remote traffic control in case of emergency.
"The vehicle is loaded with cabs with the help of a lift truck at the press and stamping plant, accepts a command, drives off by itself, without a man in the cab, runs on a road between the plants, enters a shop of the automobile plant, parks next to an unloading dock and waits for unloading," explained the functionality of the vehicle Sergey Nazarenko, Chief Designer of Innovative Vehicles, Service of Chief Designer of Innovative Vehicles, R&D Centre, KAMAZ PTC. "The unloaded vehicle returns to the press and stamping plant." It runs on one and the same route as a shuttle during a working day."
The pilot robotic truck has already been made. The first Odyssey is assembled on the basis of the KAMAZ-43083 diesel truck. The vehicle is equipped with four types of sensors at once: video cameras, radars, lidars – laser rangefinders and sonars serve as the truck's "eyes" and other "sensory organs". The robotic truck features high-precision navigation (with an error not more than 3-5 cm) and a communication system: industrial Wi-Fi, 4G and a special VHF range if other communication channels are muted, that is an emergency channel. All data from sensors go to the main brain of the vehicle – a computer processing incoming information about running parameters. Based on these results, a decision is to be taken how the vehicle should operate and perform a task correctly.
The computer of the vehicle is developed by experts of KAMAZ's Research and Development Centre jointly with the company's partner – Kazan Federal University. "Each robotic vehicle can be remotely controlled by hand – using a joystick or a steering wheel, like in a computer game. This mode will be fallback in case or emergency. The base mode of operation is an autonomous mode with an operator's control," says Sergey Nazarenko. "If something unusual, unpredictable happens on the way, the vehicle stops and waits for the operator's command. This is why a system to monitor and control robotic vehicles is being developed."
This is only one of driverless projects the company's experts are actively working on trying to develop KAMAZ smart transportation systems. In the words of Mr. Nazarenko, the vehicles will be given more autonomy after all necessary inspections and tests. The Odyssey is a scalable project, and there will be tens and hundreds of vehicles, not just one or two, on the route.
The robotic truck is currently being fine-tuned and calibrated. The designers are to develop and manufacture the same electric vehicle by year-end. KAMAZ plans to launch pilot transportation already in the summer 2018, and fine-tuning will have been completed by year-end, so that actual transportation could be started from the beginning of 2019.