We definitely had to do a calendar double check and make sure it was 2014 and not 2030 after seeing the latest concept machine — a compact excavator — from Volvo Construction Equipment. Following in the tradition of Volvo CE’s previous concept machines — the SfinX (excavator), Centaur (hauler), Gryphin (wheel loader) and Fenix (paver) — the GaiaX also draws from Greek mythology and is inspired by the primordial deity, Gaia, the creator and mother of Earth and the universe.
“The Mother Earth figure embodies many characteristics of the concept compact excavator — its innate affinity with the ground, its power, strength and all-seeing control, as well as its protective qualities,” said Stina Nilimaa Wickström, Design Director at Volvo CE. “This is a machine designed to work in harmony with nature with minimal environmental impact, and that cares for the user and site staff, keeping them safe from harm. Like Gaia, the excavator is also the first of a generation and of exceptional beauty.”
The user-centric GaiaX is thoroughly minimalistic with plenty of “air” in the design and no more structural features than are required to carry out the job. The traditional cab is replaced by a lightweight steel guardrail, while the battery alone acts as counterweight to the arm and boom. Volvo CE turns the usual disadvantage of a heavy battery into an advantage. Four electrically-powered tracks provide good ground surface contact and ensure stability and maneuverability, even on steep inclines.
Though the structure of the GaiaX may be simple, the human-machine interface (HMI) is highly advanced — with half of the six-strong design team dedicating their time to developing a revolutionary operator experience.
“The GaiaX project has been an incredible opportunity for us to experiment with the way construction equipment is used. We feel as if we are paving the way to the future of Volvo and perhaps the industry too,” said Sidney Levy, Chief Designer at Volvo Product Design.