SafeAI, Siemens, Obayashi to offer retrofitted autonomous, zero-emission heavy duty vehicles

Together, the companies will create a smarter, safer, and more sustainable future for the off-road heavy vehicle industry

Santa Clara, CA – SafeAI, a global leader in autonomous heavy equipment, announced a collaboration with Siemens today to create an autonomous, zero-emission heavy vehicle fleet for Obayashi Corporation. SafeAI and Siemens will work with Obayashi Corporation, a Japan-based global leader in construction, to create smarter, safer, more sustainable, and more productive construction sites.

SafeAI and Obayashi originally announced their partnership in October 2020, beginning with a pilot site in Cupertino, CA, USA. Together, the two companies set out to address common pain points across construction—including unsafe working conditions, labor shortages, and rampant inefficiencies—with autonomous solutions. Since then, they have successfully tested and deployed an articulated autonomous dump truck to complete over 580 load-haul dump cycles.

SafeAI and Siemens signed an agreement in May 2021 to jointly work on retrofitting off-road heavy vehicles for autonomy, zero-emission, and connected applications, due to the increasing convergence of these three mega-trends in vehicles. SafeAI brings its powerful, scalable AI-powered retrofit autonomy to the collaboration, while Siemens provides its industry-leading hardware and software capabilities in zero-emission powertrains, and the necessary infrastructure to operate these vehicles.

Earlier this year, a fleet of 300 construction trucks—ranging from 45 – 65 tons and operated by Obayashi Corporation—was identified to be retrofitted for autonomy and zero-emission. In May 2022, the companies began retrofitting the first 45-ton vehicle, which is expected to be ready by the end of 2022. The collaboration will continue scaling across the entire fleet over a three-year period.

“Siemens has already built a track record of advancing on-road electrification. Now, together, we can deliver these capabilities, at scale, to off-road industries. With this partnership, our present and future customers can experience the powerful, synergistic benefits of autonomy and electrification, continued Halder.”

Unlike passenger cars, full electrification of heavy vehicles is still at a nascent stage. However, with improving the maturity of technology, the total cost of ownership, government incentives, and regulations, there will be over four million zero-emission heavy vehicles deployed by 2030. Beyond the zero-emission benefit, electric vehicles also offer improved performance, negligible maintenance costs, and longer uptime and life, improving productivity and reliability while lowering costs. For this project, it is estimated that the total cost of ownership for the retrofitted electric vehicle will be 15-30% less than that of the original internal combustion engine vehicle.

“Heavy vehicle retrofit for autonomy and zero-emission is an innovative yet cost-effective solution that will fast track adoption of sustainable technologies for heavy vehicles. Not to forget, retrofit is a form of reuse or recycling and hence in line with circular economy principles to better meet net-zero goals. Combined with creative financing models and rigorous focus on safety, there could be as many retrofitted zero-emission heavy vehicles as newly built zero-emission heavy vehicles by 2030,” said Zubin Sarkar, Head of Strategy, Business Development and Marketing at Siemens Commercial Vehicles. “There’s a tremendous opportunity ahead for companies across industries like construction, mining, harbor, and agriculture to reduce their carbon footprint, all while improving operations and lowering costs. In partnership with pioneers like SafeAI and Obayashi Corporation, we can imagine a more sustainable future for these industries.”

The project also incorporates unique cutting-edge features from Siemens such as an autonomous pantograph to enable automatic charging and an autonomy analytics suite to ensure a wide array of reliable and safe applications. Simulytic, a new Siemens AG venture, has been established to help accelerate the deployment of autonomous vehicles by offering a trustworthy platform accessible to regulators, government, insurance, tech developers, and operators alike. Andy Gill, Chief Operating Officer at Simulytics adds, “By creating a digital replica of the autonomous vehicle in its deployment environment, we can use our simulation technology to provide independent safety and performance analytics for both SafeAI and Obayashi.”

The retrofit project will be engineered by a system integrator known for its expertise in electrification and mechatronics of trucks, AVIA Engineering. “We are thrilled to further deepen our long-time collaboration with Siemens in the field of vehicle electrification with such an innovative project,” said David Sánchez, owner and CEO of AVIA Engineering. “To integrate a fully electric powertrain and improve vehicle attributes in such a demanding application is a task at the cutting edge of technology and a technical challenge that we are delighted to take on behalf of our partners.”

“We firmly believe the future of the construction industry is both autonomous and electric—and we’re determined to establish that future ourselves,” said Hiroto Sato, COO at Obayashi SVVL (Silicon Valley Ventures & Laboratory). “We’ve already started to see the powerful impact autonomous technology can have through our work with SafeAI over the last year. Now, with SafeAI’s partnership with Siemens, we will pioneer more sustainable operations to continue leading the way toward a smarter future for our industry.”

This partnership follows on the heels of a year of significant growth for SafeAI, including expansion into Australia, Canada, Japan and India, the release of its industry-first operating system, the SafeAI Autonomous Framework (SAF), and a game-changing partnership announcement with MACA, Ltd and Position Partners to deploy 100 autonomous vehicles.


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