Komatsu marks 10 years of autonomous trucks

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Komatsu is celebrating a decade of the commercial deployment of its Autonomous Haulage System in Australia and North and South America

Komatsu-AHS-conversion
One of Komatsu'a AHS conversions

The company now operates 100 self-driving haul trucks and says it plans to accelerate the pace of AHS deployment.

In 2005, Komatsu began the AHS trial at Codelco's copper mine in Chile and began commercial deployment there in January 2008. 

The second deployment followed at a Rio Tinto iron ore mine in Australia in late 2008.

After these successes an AHS system was piloted in a section of a Suncor oil sands mine in Canada in 2013.

Rio Tinto currently operates AHS trucks in four mines in Western Australia's Pilbara region, with the trucks being controlled remotely from the company's operations centre in Perth, roughly 1500km from the mines.

Around the world the system operates around the clock in six mines, hauling three different commodities.

"By the end of 2017, the AHS recorded a world-leading, cumulative total of 1.5 billion tons of hauled materials," Komatsu says.

"In the area of safety, AHS is significantly safer than in conventional mining environments where even a small truck driving error could cause a serious accident. 

"AHS-enabled customer productivity has improved," it adds, "reducing load and haul unit costs by more than 15 per cent compared with conventional haulage methods."

The company also says tyre life has been improved by 40 per cent as the automatic controls of the AHS reduce sudden acceleration and abrupt steering.

Komatsu has also introduced AHS kits to retrofit manned haul trucks with autonomous systems.

It successfully completed trials of these kits at a Rio Tinto mine in September 2017. 

"The retrofit kit, mounted on a Komatsu electric drive standard truck 830E (nominal payload: 220 tonnes), enabled the truck to operate in autonomous mode," it says.

"As a result, Komatsu recently received an order from Rio Tinto for 29 AHS retrofit kits, to be installed on 830E standard trucks currently operating at Rio Tinto’s Brockman 4 mine." 

In addition to expanding the AHS retrofit kit to include other main models of Komatsu electric drive standard trucks, Komatsu is planning to enhance the AHS’s mixed-operation functions. 

This will enable manned haul trucks of any make to safely interoperate with Komatsu AHS trucks in a blended fleet operation.

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