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Stora Enso tests autonomous trucks
FINLAND (From news reports) -- Autonomous vehicles are being developed and tested in many real-world environments. One of the most promising applications is material transport in closed areas, where safety matters are under tight control. Now Stora Enso, a major Finnish forestry renewable materials company, is testing an autonomous truck in their mill area in Uimaharju, Eastern Finland. Nokian Tyres has provided the test truck with top-notch smart tires with Nokian Tyres Intuitu technology.

As industries strive towards better efficiency, safety and sustainability, the automatization of routine transports becomes beneficial. Stora Enso's pulp mill in Uimaharju has been modernized recently, and Stora Enso invests heavily into digitalization. For example, drones are utilized in timber measurements. Now they are also testing an autonomous truck for a 1.4 km woodchip transport route inside the mill area.

"The test use of an autonomous truck will give us more insight into the environmental and safety benefits and cost savings the new kind of vehicle can bring to our mill transports," says Antti Suvinen, Head of Harvesting Operations at Stora Enso Wood Supply Finland . "In the future, the driver may operate the vehicle from a remote-control room, which improves ergonomics and safety."

The autonomous truck testing project is a joint effort between several Finnish expert companies - the commissioners are Stora Enso and the transport operator is Mantsinen Group, the truck's smart guiding system and accessories are provided by the load handling expert Hiab Finland, that has developed them in collaboration with VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd. VTT is also involved in developing the system safety with the industrial safety system provider InnoTrafik.

One vital area for safety and efficiency is the tires. As the automatic steering system has no "feel" for example for changing road conditions, the tires must provide very accurate and predictable handling as well as constant information on factors such as tire pressure and temperature. The changing conditions and snowy winters in the Northern Karelia area where the pulp mill is located further adds to the challenge. Nokian Tyres provided the trial truck with the top-of-the-line Nokian Hakkapeliitta Truck series of tires - with Nokian Tyres Intuitu smart tire functionality.

"Nokian Tyres has gathered technical experience in autonomous vehicle projects and recently launched its Nokian Tyres Intuitu smart tire solution - first for tractors and eventually for the entire Heavy Tyres' product range", says Toni Silfverberg, Head of Sales and Marketing at Nokian Tyres. "Accurate, real-time tire data is a crucial safety factor in driverless applications, and Nokian Tyres Intuitu smart tire system provides just that."

The whole unmanned truck trial aims for better safety, fuel economy and efficiency - and thereby reduced CO2 emissions. These goals are at the heart of Nokian Tyres as well. "Nokian Hakkapeliitta Truck tires have a low rolling resistance, which has a direct effect on fuel consumption", says Toni Silfverberg. "And the Nokian Tyres Intuitu smart tire functionality both monitors the tire temperature, which is critical for spotting problems beforehand, and pressure, which is also important for fuel consumption and tire service life."

During the testing period, special attention is paid to safety. The transport speed never exceeds 20 km/h and as an extra measure, the truck is always manned with a supervisor that can take control in case something goes wrong.

Nokian Tyres boasts one of the most sustainable manufacturing processes in the world. The factory in Nokia, Finland has undergone renovations, and now features a brand new 3500m2 product development center that makes sure that more tire innovations can be developed and brought to market faster.

"The future of tires is digital", says Toni Silfverberg. "Our tires can no longer be dumb pieces of rubber, but active components in the ever more digital vehicle environments. This way, the tires drive the progress and enable new possibilities."

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