World-first autonomous roadtrains mark milestone

Kenworth C509 key handover at Mineral Resources.

Mineral Resources has handed over the first custom off-road triple roadtrain for conversion to autonomous operation by its project partners Hexagon AB.

The recent handover, which was achieved one month ahead of schedule, is another significant milestone in the development of a fleet of fully autonomous roadtrains.

The world-first technology has been designed and developed by Mineral Resources and Hexagon for MinRes’ Onslow Iron project in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Mineral Resources Director of Technology and Innovation David Geraghty presented the keys for the highly customised Kenworth C509 prime mover at Hexagon AB’s Perth workshop.

Hexagon AB Chief Synergy Officer Autonomous Solutions, Gordon Dale, along with Executive Vice President Core Autonomy, Mike Verheyn and Vice President Core Autonomy Engineering, John Buszek were in Perth for the occasion.

The roadtrains will be converted to autonomous operation by Hexagon AB using technology developed by the autonomy specialist’s engineering team. The vehicles are being tested with check drivers at Mineral Resources sites in the Yilgarn region.

From January, ten vehicles a month will be converted over the next year to meet Onslow Iron’s requirements. Once deployed, Mineral Resources will have a fleet of 120 fully autonomous roadtrains.

Each triple trailer roadtrain will carry 330 tonnes of iron ore approximately 150 kilometres on a private, sealed haul road from the Ken’s Bore 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 roadtrains 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 Mineral Resources Director of Technology and Innovation, David Geraghty.

“Automation brings many benefits, including enhancing road safety, increasing operational efficiencies and reducing emissions.”

Gordon Dale said it was a complementary partnership, with Mineral Resources leading the way in mining services and Hexagon leading the way in autonomous technical capability.

“We are excited to commence installing the autonomous technology in our Perth workshop, with the aim to complete a fit out of a truck in just two-to-three days,” he said.

Kenworth C509 autonomous roadtrain in Western Australia. Source: Mineral Resources.
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