Autonomous trucks for the mining industry

There is a row of trucks coming from a mine, efficiently and at a steady pace the ore is being transported from the heart of the mine to a second location where the ore is being re-packaged for further transport, by train or boat. There is a catch though, in the heavy trucks, there is no-one in the driver’s seat.

Photo: Shutterstock/Gwoeii

Improvements to efficiency and safety are the main aims of development in the mining industry. Keeping processes running in a mine is of crucial importance since a stoppage can be very costly.  

To meet this challenge Saab – together with Scania (the main contractor), Autoliv, KTH (the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm) and Linköping University – is involved in a project known as iQMatic – “the first step to autonomous heavy trucks for mining applications”.

Some of the challenges that the mining industry faces can be solved by a transport system consisting of a large number of smaller and relatively cheap autonomous standard trucks. These provide an efficient and reliable flow and also avoid risking the drivers’ safety. The benefits are reduced costs and increased flexibility together with greater safety and lower environmental impact.

In the project, Saab is responsible for the control and communications systems. This task is solved using the product SAFE as a Fleet Management tool. SAFE is a software platform intended for control-room operations to allocate and overview resources. The platform can be modified to be used in many different situations and environments, which is one of the reasons it works efficiently in the iQMatic project.

“All parties involved in the project are extremely pleased and impressed at how effectively we can modify SAFE to carry out the tasks of Fleet Management. Mission planning; management of resources; allocation of duties with proposed routes for individual trucks or groups of trucks; monitoring and compiling information about the trucks’ status; and how many tons are being transported,” explains Jan Thörnqvist, Sales Director.

iQMatic is a four-year project running from 2013 to 2017 at a total cost of SEK 80 million. It will be demonstrated in a mine in 2016, and in 2017 the solution will be demonstrated in South America for one of the world’s largest mining companies.

 

Link to SAFE