In early 2008, Komatsu launched its first commercial autonomous haulage system (AHS) trucks after trialling them at a Chilean copper mine in 2005, before deploying more driverless trucks at a Rio Tinto-owned iron ore mine in Western Australia.
Ten years later Rio Tinto operates multiple AHS trucks throughout four mines in the Pilbara region, a Komatsu spokesperson said.
“The entire AHS operation is controlled remotely and efficiently from Rio Tinto’s operations centre in Perth, roughly 1500km from the mines,” the spokesperson said, adding, “More than 100 AHS trucks operate in Australia, North and South America today.
“Based on the 10-year proven record of safety, productivity, environmental resistance and system flexibility in an array of mining environments, Komatsu plans to accelerate the pace of AHS deployment.”
Komatsu’s AHS trucks are fitted with vehicle controllers and a GPS, obstacle detection and wireless network systems.
Information on the target course and speed is sent from the supervisory system to the driverless trucks, while GPS ascertains their positions.
When loading, the trucks are automatically guided to the loading spot, based on the position of the bucket of the GPS-fitted excavator or wheel loader. The supervisory system then directs the trucks along the route to the dump location.
Komatsu also employs retrofit kits that were first trialled at Rio Tinto’s Brockman mine in late 2017.
The retrofit kits – which were mounted on a Komatsu 830E electric drive standard truck – enabled the truck to operate in autonomous mode.
As a result, Komatsu received an order for 29 AHS retrofit kits to be installed on 830E standard trucks currently operating at Rio Tinto’s mine.
The company statement added that in addition to expanding its AHS retrofit kit to be used on other Komatsu electric drive standard trucks, it had plans to enhance the AHS’s mixed operation functions.
“The planned enhancements will enable manned haul trucks of any make to safely interoperate with Komatsu AHS trucks in a blended fleet operation,” it noted.
Established in 1921, Komatsu is a provider of construction and mining equipment products and services. Based in Tokyo, Japan, Komatsu has 144 global subsidiaries and 52 branches located throughout Australia.