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Autonomous Road-Train Serves Mining Industry

by IAV Staff

Hexagon’s Autonomy & Positioning and Mining divisions has developed an automated road-train solution with Mineral Resources Limited (MRL) for the latter’s haulage fleet in the Australian mining industry. The solution integrates drive by-wire technology with an autonomous management system to orchestrate vehicle movement in road-train haulage. The automated road-train solution focuses on safety, productivity and sustainability for MRL operations and will be phased in over the next two years.

The automated road-train solution improves the safety of long-range haulage, provides cost-efficiencies and reduces emissions to assist companies in lowering their carbon footprint. Beyond mining, this innovative solution will benefit bulk haulage in many other off-road primary industries.

MRL plans to run a fleet of 425-ton triple-trailer road trains operating across multiple convoys, with each road train convoy consisting of up to five prime mover trucks, with three trailers each, hauling the ore from the mine site to the Port of Ashburton.

A successful pilot project is already underway using 385-ton triple-trailer road trains, which have been tailored for the specific economic constraints of iron ore and other bulk commodities. During the next two years, the testing will continue, ramping up to 425-ton in 2023. In this final configuration, a remote operations centre would monitor the trucks, with one operator in control of the platoon.

Both companies are confident that progressive automation will profoundly change the safety and economics of mining where macroeconomic challenges, including commodity prices and labour shortages, impact the feasibility of projects.

The companies achieved a successful proof-of-concept completed with the specific economic constraints of iron ore and other bulk commodities. MRL provided its expertise and knowledge in road-train haulage while Hexagon drew upon its experience in autonomy. ““We will initially adopt the technology for our own operations, with a view to offering the solution to our large Tier One customer base,” MRL stated.

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