Komatsu and Toyota have launched a joint project to develop an autonomous light vehicle (ALV) that will operate with Komatsu’s autonomous haulage system (AHS).
The companies, which have joined together to jointly create new technologies in an effort to provide miners with improvements that are safer and more productive, are currently testing a concept ALV at their proving grounds.
They anticipate having a proof of concept at a customer site by around January 2024.
“Autonomy offers the opportunity to remove people from harm’s way and enhance safety,” the OEM said.
“It can allow our mining customers the ability to continue the hard work of providing critical minerals despite the ongoing challenge of labor shortages in the mining industry. It can also provide additional safety measures to mine sites on which multiple pieces of equipment are operated, in an effort to reduce accidents due to human error.”
Komatsu first launched its commercial application of an AHS in 2008, and has since significantly broadened its performance and gained a positive reputation for its work.
It now has deployed over 650 trucks at 22 sites in five countries.
While AHS-enabled autonomous haul trucks and manual light vehicles used for maintenance or transport are running on haulage roads at the same time, autonomous haul trucks may decrease their speed or stop when passing light vehicles to avoid possible collisions caused by human error. However, it noted that customer demand for improved productivity in mine operations regarding autonomous haul truck operating efficiency remains an issue.
“In light of those circumstances and in an effort to solve those issues quickly, Komatsu and Toyota have joined together to accelerate autonomy in mines,” the pair said.
Under the agreement, Komatsu will develop a new management program for ALVs on its AHS supervisory system, and Toyota will develop ALVs running automatically under AHS control.