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Volvo agreement provides autonomous transport to Brønnøy Kalk AS

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GOTHENBURG, Sweden — Volvo Trucks has signed a landmark agreement with Brønnøy Kalk AS in Norway to provide its first commercial autonomous solution transporting limestone from an open pit mine to a nearby port.

The solution for Brønnøy Kalk AS consists of limestone being transported by six autonomous Volvo FH trucks on a five kilometer stretch through tunnels between the mine itself and the crusher. Tests of this solution have been carried out successfully and will continue throughout 2018 to become fully operational by the end of 2019.

The agreement follows recent successful automation projects involving mining, sugar cane harvesting and refuse collection, according to Claes Nilsson, president of Volvo Trucks.

Yet this commercial solution represents an exciting first for Volvo Trucks, he said, adding that rather than purchasing autonomous trucks, Brønnøy Kalk is buying a transport solution – specifically the transport of the limestone between the two hubs.

“This is an important step for us,” said Raymond Langfjord, managing director of the mine. “The competition in the industry is tough. We are continuously looking to increase our efficiency and productivity long-term, and we have a clear vision of taking advantage of new opportunities in technology and digital solutions.  We were searching for a reliable and innovative partner that shares our focus on sustainability and safety. Going autonomous will greatly increase our competitiveness in a tough global market.”

“We are proud to be able to present an autonomous solution which will meet the challenges of our customers both in terms of safety, reliability and profitability,” Nilsson said. ”The global transport needs are continuously changing at a very high pace and the industry is demanding new and advanced solutions to stay ahead. Our aim is to be the leader of the development of products and services to respond to these demands.”

“It is exciting to reach this point where we introduce autonomous solutions, says Sasko Cuklev, director autonomous solutions at Volvo Trucks. “By working in a confined area on a predetermined route, we can find out how to get the best out of the solution and tailor it according to specific customer needs. This is all about collaborating to develop new solutions, providing greater flexibility and efficiency as well as increased productivity.”

The agreement involves a deal whereby the customer buys a total transport service and pays per ton delivered.

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Minnesota House backs hands-free cellphone rule for driving

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Assuming the bill becomes law, Minnesota would become one of 18 states plus the District of Columbia that require drivers to use hands-free devices while phoning. (FOTOSEARCH)

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota motorists would be required to use hands-free devices when talking on the phone while driving under a bill that passed the state House on Monday night, after sponsors said the measure will cut down on distracted driving and save lives.

The House approved the bill 106-21 with bipartisan support, though a few critics said it doesn’t go far enough because it doesn’t include tougher penalties for texting while driving, which is already illegal in Minnesota.

“There’s clear evidence from other states that these types of laws save lives,” Democratic House Speaker Melissa Hortman said at a news conference earlier in the day. “We’ve heard so many heart-wrenching stories from Minnesotans about family members they’ve lost because people are on their smartphones instead of focusing on the road.”

A similar bill working its way through the Senate exempts the manual use of GPS navigation systems. The House bill would limit GPS use while moving to one-touch, voice-activated apps such as Google Maps. The bill’s chief House sponsor, Rep. Frank Hornstein, said he’s confident the differences will get worked out in conference committee, adding that Gov. Tim Walz has indicated that will sign the bill.

Drivers would not need vehicles with built-in Bluetooth wireless systems, Hornstein said. For older cars, he said, hands-free mounts that comply are available online for as little as $9.

The Department of Public Safety says that at least 27 of Minnesota’s approximately 380 traffic deaths last year were related to distractions of all kinds. Experts testified during committee hearings that cellphone use is the fastest-growing distraction, causing a rising number of deaths and injuries.

Assuming the bill becomes law, Minnesota would become one of 18 states plus the District of Columbia that require drivers to use hands-free devices while phoning. A separate bill to toughen the state’s existing penalties for texting while driving is working its way through the committee process in the Senate. Hornstein said that bill may get heard in the House later.

Hornstein, a Minneapolis Democrat who chairs the House transportation committee, acknowledged that hands-free does not make phoning while driving completely distraction-free. But he said it would be a “major step forward.”

He sponsored a similar hands-free bill last year, but Hortman said Republican leaders who controlled the House back then would not allow a floor vote because it didn’t have enough GOP support. Democrats won control of the House with the November elections and Hortman became speaker in January.

Karin Ilg, of New Prague, recalled to reporters how her husband, Phil Ilg, was killed when he was struck on his bicycle from behind by a 16-year-old driver who was focused more on her phone than on the road. Ilg said she has been cutting up his bike and handing out small pieces — like one that she held up — to every 16-year-old she can “as a reminder not to text and drive. … The time is now for us to get this going and to have this as law.”

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Canada’s Lion Electric Co. introduces all-electric Class 8 urban truck

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The Lion Class 8 vehicle has a range of up to 250 miles on a single charge and boasts “zero emissions” as well as “no noise pollution.” (Photo: Lion)

MARIBEL, Quebec — Canada’s Lion Electric Co. March 11 presented its all-electric Class 8 urban truck, the Lion8, which will be delivered this fall.

The vehicle has a range of up to 250 miles on a single charge and boasts “zero emissions” as well as “no noise pollution.”

Lion also says the truck has an 80 percent energy cost reduction and a 60 percent reduction in operational costs.

Another cost-saving attribute, says the company, is “oil-free operation,” with few moving parts and brakes that last longer because of a regenerative braking system.

It’s also built to withstand Canadian winters and punishing road conditions.

According to Lion, the company has already taken orders for the truck from committed buyers.

Assisting in unveiling the new truck was Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, a Kansas City Chiefs football player and Lion “ambassador.”

Lion is a manufacturer of zero emission vehicles, including all-electric school buses, paratransit minibuses and urban transportation and commercial trucks.

It’s first vehicle will be delivered to the Société des Alcools du Quebec later this year.

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Diesel Laptops launches virtual diesel technician program

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Clients that utilize this program have full, unlimited access to Diesel Laptops’ certified, in-house diesel technicians who are available via phone and live chat and can both remote access the client’s diagnostic tools, and video stream through the end user’s mobile device. (Courtesy: DIESEL LAPTOPS)

GILBERT, S.C. — Diesel Laptops, a distributor of commercial truck diesel diagnostic software, hardware and services, has launched a Virtual Diesel Technician Program.

This program is a first in the commercial truck and off highway industry and is a real solution to the current diesel technician shortage that exists, according to according to Tyler Robertson, CEO of Diesel Laptops.

Clients that utilize this program have full, unlimited access to Diesel Laptops’ certified, in-house diesel technicians who are available via phone and live chat and can both remote access the client’s diagnostic tools, and video stream through the end user’s mobile device.

The program also grants clients access to the wide array of repair information that Diesel Laptops has created.

This repair information includes VIN decoders, labor time guides, repair information on over 70,000 diagnostic fault codes, wiring diagrams, component locators, torque specifications, parts cross referencing, step-by-step repair information, and much more Robertson said.

These applications are provided through traditional desktop applications, along with websites and mobile applications.

“We all know that it is difficult to find qualified technicians,” Robertson said. “We also know it’s difficult for most shops to acquire the resources they need to properly diagnose and repair commercial trucks. The Virtual Diesel Technician Program gives repair shops access to both live, real world diesel technicians and repair information.”

Diesel Laptops is staffed with certified diesel technicians from a variety of industries, and currently handles more than 50,000 customer repair, software, and diagnostic questions every year, Robertson said.

“These are all documented and organized in the company’s database, allowing Diesel Laptops to build the world’s largest database of solutions for known symptoms and diagnostic codes,” he said.

To learn more about the Virtual Diesel Technician Program, including watching an explainer video, visit www.DieselLaptops.com

Diesel Laptops, founded in 2014, provides specialized diesel diagnostic equipment for the commercial truck, construction, automobile, agriculture, marine, and off-highway markets. Diesel Laptops is the industry leader in diesel diagnostic tools.

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