Fully autonomous road trains closer to reality

Mineral Resources (MinRes) said it recently handed over the keys to the first custom off-road triple road train to partner Hexagon AB – a milestone in the development of a fleet of fully autonomous road trains.

Hexagon will use technology developed by its engineering team to convert the customised Kenworth C509 prime mover to autonomous operation. Starting in January, 10 vehicles a month will be converted over 2024 to meet requirements at MinRes’ Onslow Iron project in Western Australia.

The road trains are being tested with check drivers at MinRes sites in the Yilgarn region. Once deployed, MinRes will have a fleet of 120 fully autonomous road trains that will carry 330 tonnes of iron ore 150 kilometres on a private, sealed haul road from the mine site to the Port of Ashburton.

Safety is at the forefront of the project’s design, with grade separation ensuring there is no interaction between the road trains on the haul road and vehicles using public roads.

“This is a significant milestone for Onslow Iron, with autonomous trucks forming an essential part of the project’s supply chain,” said David Geraghty, MinRes director of technology and innovation. “Automation brings many benefits, including enhancing road safety, increasing operational efficiencies and reducing emissions.”

Onslow Iron is one of the largest iron ore projects currently under development in Australia. Located in the west Pilbara region, it is forecast to ship around 35 million tonnes of iron ore per year, with an expected mine life of 30-plus years.

Source: Mineral Resources

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