Volvo Construction Equipment has extended its relationship with Lego Technic to create an autonomous concept wheel loader. The Zeux will influence future construction machines from Volvo but will also be available as a Lego model from August.
The two companies have been working together since 2014 whereby replica models of Volvo CE’s construction vehicles have been made in Lego form. However Zeux will be the first for which Lego worked with the Swedish OEM’s research and development team.
Arvid Rinaldo, brand communication and partnerships at Volvo CE, said, “We have enjoyed a truly fun and productive collaboration with the Lego Technic team over the past few years. It has allowed us to test ideas for new types of construction machines for the future, both in terms of functionality, scale, design and interaction.
“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.”
A focus group consisting of children helped out in the process of creating the concept vehicle. Looking at early drawings and models, the group gave feedback that led to the development of new, unique features. Two main features that the group decided on were the scout drone and the adjustable camera boom mounted on the roof of the vehicle – showing exactly where the vehicle’s ‘attention’ is directed.
“When you cross a busy road, you watch out for dangers and try to make eye contact with drivers in your immediate vicinity. It’s an instinctive reaction that lets you evaluate your next move”, said Andrew Woodman, senior design manager for Lego Group.
“Should you stay where you are, or is it safe to move? It’s usually an easy assessment. With autonomous vehicles, you don’t have that interaction because you can’t see all the sensors that allow them to navigate around both stationary and moving objects.
“It’s not intuitive for us to decode what the vehicle’s next move is, where it’s going, or if it has seen us. While the Zeux will not be driving on roads, it would be interacting with workers at a construction site. So we set out to create features and functions that make the interaction between humans and machines as safe and intuitive as possible.”