Volvo and Lego team up with children to create autonomous concept wheel loader

The Lego Technic Volvo concept wheel loader Zeux has a new 'eye' function to illustrate interactions between humans and the machine

Autonomous, Wheel loader, Volvo CE, Lego Technic, Concept design
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Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) and Lego Technic construction toys have collaborated with a team of children to design a futuristic, autonomous construction machine. What started out as a fun, informal team building event to design the construction machines of the future has led to a digital prototype for a real-world autonomous machine, called the Lego Technic Volvo concept wheel loader Zeux.

A focus group consisting of children helped out in the process creating the Zeux. 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, called the 'eye'. In addition to the scout drones and built-in sensors a real-life model would have, the eye illustrates a new and inventive feature: it will show exactly where the vehicle’s attention is directed, which means it can make 'eye contact' with humans and acknowledge their presence. 

Andrew Woodman, senior design manager, Lego Group, said: “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. 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 Volvo concept wheel loader 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.” 

Arvid Rinaldo, brand communication & partnerships, Volvo CE, said: “We have enjoyed a truly fun and productive collaboration with the Lego Technic team over the past few years. It 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 Zeux is a realistic next step in the exciting evolution of our construction machines.”

The ZEUX set is scheduled for release in toy stores in August 2018.

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