Mining corporation giant Rio Tinto has announced that its autonomous rail system named AutoHaul is now completely operational in the remote Pilbara region of Australia. The company has dubbed the driverless mining train as the “World’s largest robot.”
The automated train network costs $1.3 billion, and the company took just eight months for its rollout. In last May, the mining company got approval from the national rail safety regulator; in July the first fully loaded automated mine-to-port journey began.
The company has been gradually increasing the number of heavy-haul journeys, and it has been claimed that the autonomous system has traveled more than 1 million kilometers now.
Rio Tinto runs 200 locomotives on a rail tack spanning across 1700 kilometers for transporting ores from its 16 mines to 4 Pilbara port terminals.
Every locomotive and line, except the shorter Robe River line, in the Western Pilbara region has been automated. Rio Tinto controls the operations remotely from its center in Perth. The locomotives are fitted with cameras for monitoring the journey from the remote operations center.
Speaking about “the world’s largest robot,” the mining company’s managing director Ivan Vella said to the Sydney Morning Herald: “Early results indicate significant potential to improve productivity, providing increased system flexibility and reducing bottlenecks.”