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Major milestone for world-first fully autonomous road trains

Mineral Resources (MinRes) recently handed over the first custom off-road triple road train for conversion to autonomous operation by our project partners Hexagon AB.

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

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

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

MinRes Director of Technology and Innovation David Geraghty with Hexagon Chief Synergy Officer Autonomous Solutions Gordon Dale

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

The road trains 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 MinRes 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, MinRes will have a fleet of 120 fully autonomous road trains.

Each triple trailer road train 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 road trains on the haul road and vehicles using public roads.

MinRes Director of Technology and Innovation David Geraghty said: “This is a significant milestone for Onslow Iron, with autonomous trucks forming an essential part of the project’s supply chain.

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

Hexagon Chief Synergy Officer Autonomous Solutions Gordon Dale added: “This is a complimentary partnership, with MinRes 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.”