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Volvo CE debuts concept for autonomous asphalt compactor


September 29, 2021
By Rock to Road Staff
The CX01 compactor concept. Photo: Volvo CE

Volvo Construction Equipment (CE) showed off a cool concept at The Utility Expo in Louisville, Ken. this week: the CX01 single-drum, autonomous electric-hybrid asphalt compactor.

The CX01 concept uses one vibratory asphalt compactor drum that’s actually two independent halves (called a split-drum) kept upright by a self-balancing control system.

Capable of being operated either by remote-control or entirely autonomously, the machine is also fitted with both a diesel engine and an energy storage system, making it a flexible electric hybrid solution. It can be operated in diesel-only, hybrid or fully electric modes.

This concept machine is the latest in the Concept Lab family of prototype machines and was created by staff in the U.S. and Europe.

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“While the CX01 is a conceptual product, the research and development that have gone into it will benefit customers in other ways,” said Justin Zupanc, head of the asphalt compaction development team, Volvo CE.

Rethinking the paving process

The CX01 concept provides an opportunity to fundamentally rethink the paving process. Volvo CE says productivity and operator conditions can both be improved.

By redesigning the compactors themselves, the operator is removed from the unit — reducing exposure to vibration, noise, dust and other associated environmental conditions — and freed up to autonomously control a fleet of CX units working together to compact asphalt surfaces.

A fleet of these units deployed on larger jobs could work together and communicate not only between each CX unit but also to other pieces of equipment on the site. The machines could survey the jobsite, report on the conditions of the mat — things like density, temperature and passes — and determine when and where to compact.

Concept paves the way for new technologies

Rolling pattern, weight and number of rollers can all be adjusted to match the width, thickness and speed of paving operation. The CX01 can be matched with Volvo’s existing Co-Pilot system so that all work can be handled remotely via a touchscreen interface. In addition, it uses GPS position tracking to monitor job performance.

While the CX01 concept has been purely an exploration, some learnings could be applied to future products.

“Remote control and autonomous operations are areas of focus for us in R&D. Also, while the low-friction water reduction coating on the drum shell is theoretical, it could be a huge benefit on larger machines to decrease the amount of water needed,” Zupanc says.

“It is exciting to think how the theories showcased on the CX01 could be realized on compaction production units in the future.”

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