Rio Tinto Order 150 Driverless Dump Trucks

Rio Tinto, one of Australia’s largest mining companies has struck a deal with mining equipment manufacturer Komatsu to purchase 150 driverless trucks for their Pilbara iron ore mines over 4 years, starting in 2012.

This is a dramatic increase on their previous target of 10 driverless dump trucks as a part of the 2008 ‘Mine of the Future’ program and definitely speaks of the success of these autonomous haulage systems.

The move follows a two-year trial of Autonomous Haulage System (AHS) technology on trucks at the West Angelas mine, which has performed well above expectations. (source)

 What Are Driverless Dump Trucks?

Komatsu’s Autonomous Haulage System work off pre-defined courses to autonomously navigate between different set points.

Navigated by GPS as well as a secondary navigation process these driverless dump trucks can navigate in the complex mining environment and can haul a 290-tonne (320-U.S.-ton) payload of overburden and ore without a driver (see Komatsu article).

How It All Works

autonomous haulage systemSource: http://www.komatsu.com

What Does This Mean For Dump Truck Driver Jobs?

This is the big question from a job seekers perspective?

Is there any point in getting dump truck driver training if all mines are going to eventually adopt this driverless truck system?

In the short term, there will still be dump truck mining jobs because this is just one mining company using these trucks in one location. However, as for how quickly these autonomous trucks will be adopted by other mining companies – that is anyone’s guess.

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