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Miika Ahopelto: Towards Automation and Improved Fuel Economy of non-road working machines

Miika Ahopelto defended his doctoral dissertation “Towards Automation and Improved Fuel Economy with System Architecture Design of a Non-Road Working Machine” on Friday, November 29th at Tampere University. The opponents were professor Kari Tammi from Aalto University and professor Juha Pyrhönen from LUT University. The custos was professor Kalevi Huhtala from Tampere University.

Mikael Ahopelto
Mikael Ahopelto

In mobile machinery such as wheel loaders, forestry machinery or mining machinery, increased automation and fuel economy pose new challenges for machine system management and signal routing. Especially before switching to fully autonomous machines, machine control systems must be adapted to different control modes.

Miika Ahopelto focuses on the requirements of mobile machine control system architectures as the degree of automation increases. The work focuses mainly on the lower level control system required for the smooth control of machine components and subsystems. These systems include, for example, diesel engine, working hydraulics or hydrostatic transmission, which require the use of sensors and actuators.

A control system architecture that can be used both to improve fuel economy and to develop functions that increase autonomy was developed and studied in the research. Particularly, the various modes of operation pose challenges for the controlling of the machine in various conditions. For example, in autonomous driving, it is important to know the system's responses and to be able to follow closely the guidance given, while with the commands coming from the driver the emphasize is on the driving sensation.

"In the future, requirements for adaptability of guidance will become more relevant as autonomous functions become more common, especially for jobs that do not make economic or technical sense to carry out completely autonomously," says Ahopelto.

The study focused on fuel economy by integrating a modular power management system into the system architecture. The fuel consumption in the system could be reduced by reducing the speed of the diesel engine, which results in a better overall efficiency of the machine. The system presented in the wheel loader achieved fuel savings of 11-22% compared to the original machine. Fuel savings were dependent on the operating cycle being compared and were achieved through a change in steering method without changing the machine components.

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