Australia Sees Successful Autonomous Commercial Mining Equipment Testing

by Jake Tully - Published: 12/11/2017

It some ways America’s neighbors down under may be catching on to the commercial vehicle autonomy trend more quickly, specifically in the arena of the mining industry.

Wenco International Mining Systems announced earlier today that it completed trials successfully with the use of Hitachi Construction Machinery’s autonomous mine haul trucking equipment.

Developed in conjunction with Wencomine, Hitachi Construction Machnery, which purchased Wenco in 2009, has been developing its fleet of “Dynamic Dispatch” automation software in order to send out autonomous haul trucks for various jobs.

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Louis Chan, Wenco’s manager of research and development on the autonomous project reports that the completed trials may move operations forward to more real-time scenarios.

“We’re very excited to reach this milestone,” said Chan. “Wenco has worked closely with Hitachi since 2014; completion of this test phase proves capability of managing fully autonomous vehicles from fleet management and fleet automation software. We’re now eager to move ahead to the next phase: trials in active mine operations.”

Wenco reports that last month the publication Australia Mining Monthly announced successful tests from three autonomous Hitachi

According to a 2015-2016 Stanwell Corporation annual report, autonomous trucks have moved more than 300,000 back cubic meters of Earth during mine rehabilitation jobs.

Eric Green, Manager of mining at Hitachi Construction Machinery Australia reports that trials will continue with a hope of autonomous implementation in the next few years.

“We’re looking to move to the next stage very shortly with a commercial product in operation at an actual operating mine,” said Green. “That’s in the plans for 2019 or 2020.”