Driverless trucks come at a time when there is heightened pressure to increase production while also balancing rising costs. Vicky Kendrick reports
Driverless trucks have been deployed for the first time in July 2012 by the mining and resources giant, Rio Tinto.
The Junction South East Pit in Western Australia uses a fleet of 10 Komatsu driverless haul trucks moving high-grade ore. This marks a pivotal step towards the full operational deployment of such vehicles.
Rio Tinto aims to roll out the use of driverless trucks across all its haulage requirements in the pit to move high-grade, low-grade and waste material from multiple loading units.
The company’s CEO, Sam Walsh, says he wants to introduce over 150 driverless trucks to its Pilbara operations as the company looks to lead the way in the operation of these vehicles. These trucks specifically form part of the Mine of the Future programme developed by Rio Tinto, which focuses on improving the logistics, safety and production efficiency at 14 mines across Australia.
A recent development by Caterpillar has lead to them launching their CAT MineStar system technology that will be used for an initial fleet of 12 793F trucks in the third quarter of 2012.
Caterpillar will work with WesTrac to implement this innovative solution at the Soloman mine in Australia
Sam Walsh, Rio Tinto Iron Ore CEO, says he wants to introduce over 150 driverless trucks to its Pilbara operations. © Rio Tinto
At Rio Tinto’s Pilbara operations the company is striving to lead the way in the operation of driverless trucks. © Rio Tinto