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World's first timber haulier to load using VR-goggles

Mattias Ackesten from Johan Ackerstens Åkeri AB in Kolsva, Sweden is the world's first timber haulier to have replaced the crane cab with a pair of VR-goggles. Using a "HiVision" system he can load the timber truck from inside the driver's cab.

(Right) Loading from inside the drivers cab using HiVision. (Left) Mattias Ackesten from family-run Johan Ackestens Åkeri AB is the world's first timber haulage company to replace the crane cab for a pair of VR googles (photos courtesy HIAB).

(Right) Loading from inside the driver’s cab using HiVision. (Left) Mattias Ackesten from family-run Johan Ackestens Åkeri AB is the world’s first timber haulage company to replace the crane cab for a pair of VR-googles (photos courtesy Hiab).

The VR system has been developed by crane manufacturer Hiab together along with virtual reality company Voysys and Facebook-owned Oculus has developed the system. The classic crane cab has been replaced with cameras that send real-time live images to the driver’s VR-goggles.

The result is exactly the same image and field of vision as if sitting in the crane cab, except that it is through the VR-goggles which the operator can wear in the driver’s cab, at the office or even at home on the couch.

Mattias Ackesten saw the new technology through social media and then got the chance to experience it on during a forestry show in Karlskoga, Sweden last summer. Since the haulage firm was looking for a new Scania timber truck and the truck that the new technology sat on felt attractive, they worked out a deal.

– Instead of getting the camera and all equipment installed on an existing truck we decided to go for the whole package, so to speak. They’re interested in development, and it’s always fun to try new things and solutions, commented Mattias Ackesten.

Positive response

The transport company is contracted by Sweden’s largest forest owner, state-owned Sveaskog to haul timber in the Norra Bergslagen district and has been running the truck with the new loading system for four weeks. So far, they are very satisfied, although there is obviously a difference.

– There is a start-up period, no denying that. The biggest difference, in the beginning, is distance assessment, but I am getting the feel for it more and more, said Mattias Ackesten.

Sveaskog also welcomes the new technology. Sveaskog’s Therese Knutsson Dermer is in charge of logistics and is the one who has the most contact with the haulage companies in Norra Bergslagen where Mattias Ackesten operates.

– At Sveaskog we have no say in what equipment or trucks a haulage company decides to buy, but we do encourage development. This is really an exciting step, and there are very many of my colleagues who are curious and want to see how it works out in the field, she said.

Pioneering spirit

The new system would seem to have several advantages for timber hauliers. For instance, there is no need for the dedicated crane cab, which saves on costs and 300 – 400 kg in weight. The truck driver does not need to get in and out of the driver’s cab which improves working conditions.

Mattias Ackesten is aware that there are those who are sceptical of the new technology, but he still believes it has a future.

– When something is new, there are always sceptics, it was also when the first cranes arrived. In fact, my grandfather was one of the first in Sweden to have a custom built crane mounted on his truck, so it feels pretty damn fun being first, even now, two generations later, remarked Ackesten.

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