Volvo Charges Toward Future With New Centaur Design

Wed April 02, 2008 - National Edition
CEG



Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) has once again given its designers free rein to explore how machines might look in the future. Following the success of the SfinX extreme excavator concept (2004) and Gryphin wheel loader (2007), Volvo’s designers have now turned their attention to the articulated hauler.

The resultant vision of the future is the Centaur. Like the mythical half man, half horse beast it is named after, Centaur is a swift, strong and intelligent machine. While recognizably a Volvo, Centaur radically redraws the traditional hauler profile, with an ultra-compact front unit, arched back and super-sized wheels.

Centaur has been designed with a focus on safety. Haulers move heavy loads at fast speeds over rough ground — so stability, visibility and traction are the project’s guiding principles. The operator of the future will no longer have to clamber up ladders into the cab — the cab will ’kneel down’ to ground level, allowing the operator to walk up a short flight of steps into a well-lit workplace — through the front door.

Centaur — Eager to Work

Centaur moves almost silently due to its ultra efficient electric hybrid drive system, which is further helped by regenerative braking systems and solar panels to power auxiliary controls. Hydraulics are minimized on the Centaur, but where they do exist, they are filled with water not oil.

A swing arm suspension system allows the machine’s ride height to be adjusted — raising it over rough ground and lowering it for easier loading and fast and safe hauling over smoother surfaces. And the Centaur is fast — despite the great weight upon its back — up to 45 mph (72 kmh) is quite possible; drastically reducing haul cycle times.

One feature of the Centaur is its ability for the front ’unit’ to uncouple from the trailer. It balances using powerful computers and gyroscopes, and this ability to disconnect the trailer opens up the possibility to rapidly change the work application. The Centaur can be a hauler one moment, converting to a pipe or log carrier — and then a liquid container the next.

Safety and efficiency combine in the way the body empties its load. Centaur overcomes this with an two-piece haul body. When tipping, the rear section of the body slides into the front section, compressing the load material down and out in a controlled manner. So the weight of the load stays low — improving stability.

For more information, call 828/650-2000 or visit www.volvo.com.