Driverless Fords join FMG workforce

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  • Earthmovers & Exacavators

Four autonomous utes will hit the track at FMG’s Christmas Creek iron ore mine – and more are planned for other sites

 

One crucial ingredient will be missing from some of the utes travelling the tracks of the Christmas Creek iron ore mine, operated by Fortescue Metals Group in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

Four Ford Rangers working at the Mine, part of FMG’s Chichester Hub, have been retrofitted with an on-board vehicle automation system, allowing them to carry out regular round trips without a driver.


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FMG says the utes, which it calls autonomous light vehicles (ALVs) will be used by mine’s mobile maintenance team to collect equipment and parts – which the company says will mean fitters and other personnel will be able to spend more time maintaining assets.

The company currently estimates its fitters make around 12,000 28-kilometre round trips annually at the mine.

Developed in collaboration with Ford Australia, the on-board vehicle automation system uses an integrated Lidar/Radar perception system to detect and avoid obstacles, as well as what FMG says is a "fail safe" braking system and built-in system monitoring and fault response capability.

 

Four Ford Rangers at Fortescue Metals Group’s Christmas Creek mine have been retrofitted as autonomous vehicles.

 

Ford Australia president and chief executive Andrew Birkic says he is proud his company’s vehicles have been used for the project.

"Ford globally is at the forefront of research into autonomous vehicles, and working with companies like Fortescue is critical to gaining an insight into specific user applications," he says.

FMG chief executive Elizabeth Gaines says the project is vital for its plans to introduce more automation systems into its mobile equipment fleet at other mine sites.

"The autonomous light vehicle project is a significant advancement of our in-house automation capability, building on our leading autonomous haulage system (AHS) program which has already delivered significant productivity and efficiency improvements for the business," she says.

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