An Australian mining group has advanced the future of mobility (in mining at least) with the deployment of a fleet of fully-autonomous Ford Rangers at one of its mines.
Fortescue Metals Group has retrofitted four Rangers at its Christmas Creek mine in Western Australia with autonomous systems created by the company’s Technology and Automation team, to remove the need for fitters to make around 12,000 28-kilometre round trips each year to collect equipment and parts.
Of course, it’s not quite as ground-breaking as it sounds: mining operations don’t need to deal with road rules, pedestrians or many other vehicles, which hugely complicate the matter. Nevertheless, it’s still impressive.
The system uses a combination of LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) and radar sensors for obstacle detection and avoidance, along with a comprehensive safety management system with fail-safe braking and vehicle-wide monitoring and fault response capability.
A successful deployment of ALV’s (autonomous light vehicles) at Christmas Creek will provide the opportunity to implement a similar system at other operational sites to improve safety, productivity and efficiency.
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