This video is an opportunity to see a road train platoon in action in the Pilbara. The trucks belong to Mineral Resources (MRL)which is claiming a world-first success with a road train platoon hauling a cumulative 900 tonnes of iron ore.
The trials were announced last year and seem to have quickly borne fruit with a successful platoon hauling product on the company’s haul roads.
The company claims it will only need to have a driver in the first road train when the system is up and running. However, it is clear from the video that the process is not far enough down the development process to not have a driver sitting in the cabins of the second and third in line, there is still a driver in the driver’s seat, they just aren’t holding the steering wheel.
According to the Australian Mining website, MRL has partnered with autonomy specialist Hexagon on the project, integrating Hexagon’s drive-by-wire technology with an autonomous management system to orchestrate vehicle movement.
MRL mining services chief executive Mike Grey is quoted by the website as having said automating a road train platoon of this size had never been achieved before and he was delighted his company was leading the world with this ground-breaking innovation.
“It’s been an exciting journey over the past year and we’ve now achieved a world-first platoon of three autonomous road trains, which is a game changer for us,” said Grey. “It’s an extremely proud moment to see our autonomous project grow from desktop concept to iron ore reality so quickly.”
The project has been undertaken in partnership with Hexagon, with a view to ‘live’ introduction to enable pit-to-port capabilities at Mineral Resources’ Ashburton hub project.
The autonomous road trains are planned to be used in platoons of four, with a driver occupying the front vehicle. They will not be travelling on public roads.
“As we get ready for the Ashburton Hub Iron Ore Project and look to unlock stranded tonnes of iron ore, our autonomous road trains will be the vital link between the pit and the port,” said Grey, when talking to Australian mining. “As the first of its kind in the world, it opens up new opportunities for us, as we can trial the technology ourselves before offering it to our Tier 1 customers.”