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Futuristic Excavator Concepts and More

Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it.In the wake of declining commodity prices, mining companies have began testing...

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|Nov 3|magazine13 min read

Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it.

In the wake of declining commodity prices, mining companies have began testing the waters for newer and more efficient ways of producing more with less. And while you can’t control the ore grade and reserves, you can change the efficiency of how it’s mined.

According to Jurgen Beier, a national mining practice leader for Deloitte, innovation and structural changes have become a necessary part of the mining industry, including technology and machinery.

"There are a number of proven technologies and things that are out there today that radically change the way ore is extracted and change the way mining occurs (…) We think this is the opportunity to embrace that innovation, to get to that point of sustainability.”

The struggle for the mining sector is real, but it’s beginning to spawn some of the most advanced and revolutionary ideas ever thought possible – especially with excavators.

Volvo

Volvo may seem like your ordinary automaker but the company has opened the doors to a wave of new concepts for mining equipment.

The company has teamed up with Swedish industrial design house ‘Prospective Design’ to develop the excavator of the future, offering an array of innovative components never seen before. The machine is one part space age and another part primordial.

Featuring a small fuel cell that produces electric energy, the excavator adopts four tracks with separate wheel motors that can brake, accelerate and steer.  With an improved cab built for visibility, the excavator includes a transparent boom for safety along with GPS based telematic capabilities to ensure the excavator never leaves a predetermined area.

Although merely a concept, the two teams have created a combination of futuristic ideas, giving the sector a peek inside what mining equipment could eventually resemble.

Doosan

While Volvo may only be designing a concept, Doosan Infracore is working on something tangible. As the company’s vision for the future, the CX excavator includes a number of technological features to promote safety, usability and efficiency.

The body is a hybrid power system reducing emissions, fuel costs and noise while the cabin has the ability to be extended forward to provide improved visibility for the driver. Within the cabin, all controls are integrated into the seat with Hyper-emotional digital technology and a haptic control panel displaying all vital information on a transparent screen. This allows the operator to maintain focus on its surrounding.

The undercarriage design incorporates four swing arms attached to an independent tracked assembly. The excavator uses an articulating joint to provide better maneuverability while also providing improved stability on any surface.

In addition, the machine of the future is equipped with an epochal expansion of sliding cabin, an independent and endless navigation facility, an eco-friendly hybrid power system, and automatic operating system with artificial intelligence.

The CX excavator, which received the Best of the Best Award in 2009 for futuristic concept, is expected to be developed by the end of 2018.

Scorpion Excavator

In an effort to breed newer earth moving machinery, the Scorpion excavator is a concept for its time.

The innovative design, which is a hypothetical proposal from JCB for the year 2073, is a remote-controlled excavator modeled after a scorpion. The excavator is powered by a 750 bhp diesel with an electric drive transmission and all-terrain wheels. The six wheeled drive incorporates a fully independent suspension and swinging half-axles for greater traction with go-anywhere capabilities.

The omni-directional “scorpion tail” rear backhoe allows for greater degree of freedom, improved control, and longer reach. The design also includes a wider and larger front bucket for enhanced loading as well as counterweight support.

Hyundai next-generation earthmover

Another automaker on our list, Hyundai has recently unveiled its R220LC-9 HI-POSS excavator, a futuristic concept brought to modern day life. The excavator showcases Hyundai’s next-generation power system providing improved fuel consumption and controllability by the optimal control of electronic pumps and valves.

The earthmover utilizes an innovative system (Hyundai Intelligent Power Optimal Sharing and Energy Saving) that maximizes energy utilization through electronically controlled pump and valve, leading to more precise and effective machine operation and improved fuel consumption and operability.

The excavator reduces energy consumption by reducing waste flow through optimal flow distribution and recycling of waste energy through an accumulator.

Hyundai’s R220LC-9 HI-POSS excavator boasts a 143 hp Cummins Tier 3 QSB6.7 engine. This model has an operating weight of 50,520 pounds, a maximum dig depth of 22 feet, 1 inch and a bucket breakout force of 31,830 pounds. 

Although most of these excavators and earthmovers are simply concepts, they’re breathing new light into the industry, helping to revitalize a sector that has been hit hard by rising costs.