Scania is testing a new-generation autonomous transport system at Rio Tinto’s Dampier Salt operations in Western Australia. The first phase of the trial started in August 2018 and involves a Scania XT 8×4 autonomous tipper truck working separately from Dampier’s active operations.
During this initial stage, a safety driver rides in the vehicle to observe the truck’s performance and, if necessary, intervenes. In subsequent phases, additional autonomous Scania trucks will be added to develop vehicle–vehicle awareness and intelligent fleet supervisory controls.
Rio Tinto’s head of Productivity & Technical Support, Rob Atkinson, says, “We’re pleased to be trialing this technology in trucks that are smaller than our traditional haul trucks. This has the potential to give us more flexibility in the way we operate in a number of areas across Rio Tinto. We’ve seen automation create safer and more efficient operations in our business and this is a next step in evaluating options for delivering further improvements through the use of technology.”
Björn Winblad, Head of Scania Mining, says, “Mining sites, given their high vehicle utilization rates, are ideal for testing new autonomous technology. The industry can reap the safety and productivity benefits of automation, and the experience gained here will be instrumental in developing fully autonomous solutions for other transport applications. It is very encouraging to note that the truck has been performing in a safe manner and in accordance with expectations with regards to the operations.”