Volvo and Lego, which have partnered on highly detailed Lego Technic models for the L350F wheel loader and the EW160E wheeled excavator, unveiled what they call ZEUX autonomous wheel loader.
The ZEUX autonomous wheel loader concept employs a scout drone and an adjustable, boom-mounted camera called The Eye, to keep track of its surroundings and indicate focus to nearby humans.
Volvo said ZEUX started out as a “fun, informal team building event,” meant to provide a bit of inspiration not only for Lego’s design team, but for Volvo CE‘s as well. The exercise gave the two design teams an idea to design the construction machines of the future.
“We have enjoyed a truly fun and productive collaboration with the LEGO® Technic team over the past few years. It allowed us to test ideas for new types of construction machines for the future, both in terms of functionality, scale, design and interaction,” said Volvo’s head of Brand Communications and Partnerships, Arvid Rinaldo.
“This model may seem futuristic now, but autonomous, connected and electric construction machines are already starting to be a reality. The Volvo Concept Wheel Loader ZEUX is a realistic next step in the exciting evolution of our construction machines.”he added.
ZEUX’s bucket is like a scorpion’s tail, The Eye is a boom-mounted adjustable camera that will show exactly where the vehicle’s attention is directed. According Volvo the Eye could be a very useful safety feature for an autonomous machine because it can indicate exactly what the machine is focused on, and even serve as a way for it to make “‘eye contact’ with humans and acknowledge their presence.
In addition to the drone and Eye, the ZEUX is also outfitted with an extendable counterweight, a chassis that raises and lowers, articulated four-wheel steering and several other experimental features that you’d only find on a futuristic loader.
This latest Lego Technic set will hit store shelves in August, the companies say, the model will also serve as a digital prototype for a real-world autonomous machine.