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Monday, January 16, 2012

Rio Tinto launches driverless trucks in the Pilbara

Monday, 16 Jan 2012

It is reported that RIO Tinto is set to bring 150 driverless trucks to its Yandicoogina mine in WA.

The decision comes after three years of testing the autonomous Komatsu 930E-AT vehicles and their technology at the West Angelas iron ore mine. The fleet is to be fully delivered by the end of 2015.

The autonomous trucks have a payload of 290 tonnes and are equipped with vehicle controllers a high precision global positioning system an obstacle detection system and a wireless network. The system learns’ the layout of the mine and determines the most efficient route from loading face to dump site taking into account wear and tear potential delays and fuel consumption.

When loading, a GPS-fitted hydraulic excavator or wheel loader providing exact positioning of the bucket and guides the trucks into position. The trucks are linked to a supervisory computer at an operations centre with real-time monitoring of speed and course. While this operations centre will initially be located on-site, plans are in the works to eventually move it to Perth as part of an over-arching Operations Centre where the system will be controlled 24 hours per day.

The OC will manage control for mining, rail transport, ship loading and critical infrastructure for all of Rio Tinto’s iron ore projects in the Pilbara.

Mr Tom Albanese Rio Tinto Chief Executive said “Autonomous haulage is an important component in our Mine of the Future program.”

Safety wise, the obstacle detection system prevents collisions with other dump trucks, service vehicles and equipment. If another vehicle or person is detected, the automated truck is programmed to reduce speed or stop immediately. The technology can be used in harsh environments, including high altitudes and extreme desert conditions. They can also be deployed to highly remote regions.

From an environmental point of view, Rio expects the system to optimise operations and reduce maintenance, thus conserving energy and reducing emissions.


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