SafeAI has announced a collaboration with Siemens to create an autonomous, zero-emission heavy vehicle fleet for Japanese contractor Obayashi Corporation.
SafeAI and Siemens will take a retrofit approach to enable Obayashi to scale faster with its existing fleet.
SafeAI brings its scalable artificial intelligence-powered retrofit autonomy to the collaboration, while Siemens provides its hardware and software capabilities in zero emission powertrains, and the necessary infrastructure to operate these vehicles.
SafeAI and Siemens signed an agreement in May 2021 to jointly work on retrofitting off-road heavy vehicles for autonomy, zero emission, and connected applications, due to the increasing convergence of these three megatrends in vehicles.
SafeAI is an Automated Driving System (ADS) developer based in California. The company retrofits heavy construction and mining equipment for autonomous applications.
Earlier this year, a fleet of construction trucks – ranging from 45-65 tons (41-59 t) and operated by Obayashi Corp – was identified to be retrofitted for autonomy and zero emission.
In May 2022, the companies began retrofitting the first 45 ton vehicle, which is expected to be ready by the end of 2022. The collaboration will continue scaling across the entire fleet over a three-year period.
Bibhrajit Halder, SafeAI, founder and CEO, said: “At SafeAI, we’ve always been committed to making heavy industry safer and more productive. Now, in partnership with Siemens, we can add ‘more sustainable’ to that list.”
Beyond the zero emission benefit, electric vehicles also offer improved performance, negligible maintenance costs and longer uptime and life, improving productivity and reliability while lowering costs, SafeAI said.
Zubin Sarkar, head of Strategy, Business Development and Marketing at Siemens Commercial Vehicles, said: “Heavy vehicle retrofit for autonomy and zero emission is an innovative yet cost-effective solution that will fast track adoption of sustainable technologies for heavy vehicles.
“Not to forget, retrofit is a form of reuse or recycle and, hence, in line with circular economy principles to better meet net zero goals.
“Combined with creative financing models and rigorous focus on safety, there could be as many retrofitted zero emission heavy vehicles as newly built zero emission heavy vehicles by 2030.”
The project also incorporates features from Siemens such as an autonomous pantograph to enable automatic charging and an autonomy analytics suite to ensure a wide array of reliable and safe applications.
Image: A Caterpillar 725 articulated dump truck retrofitted for EV and AV by SafeAI and Siemens (credit: Niall David).
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