TECHNOLOGY

Rio Tinto's driverless train delivers first iron ore batch

Rio Tinto's AutoHaul autonomous train project achieves its first delivery of iron ore in the Pilbara, Western Australia

Staff reporter
The US$940 million AutoHaul programme is focused on automating trains transporting iron ore to Rio Tinto’s port facilities in the Pilbara region of Western Australia

The US$940 million AutoHaul programme is focused on automating trains transporting iron ore to Rio Tinto’s port facilities in the Pilbara region of Western Australia

PRESS RELEASE: The autonomous train, consisting of three locomotives and carrying around 28,000t of iron ore, travelled over 280km from Rio Tinto's mining operations in Tom Price to the port of Cape Lambert on July 10.

It was monitored remotely by operators from Rio Tinto's operations centre in Perth more than 1,500km away.

The inaugural journey is a significant milestone for Rio Tinto's AutoHaul programme and follows regulatory approval in May.

Locomotives carrying AutoHaul software are fitted with on-board cameras allowing for constant monitoring from the operations centre.

AutoHaul is on schedule to complete by the end of the year, unlocking significant safety and productivity gains for the business, as well as optimising the company's iron ore system by providing more flexibility and reducing bottlenecks.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore managing director, rail, port and core services, Ivan Vella said: "The safe first delivery of iron ore by an autonomous train is a key milestone for AutoHaul.

The programme will deliver the world's first fully autonomous, long-distance, heavy-haul rail network, operating the world's largest and longest robots.

"This programme symbolises both the pioneering spirit and innovative talents of many people across Rio Tinto and shows our absolute commitment to improving safety and productivity, as well as enabling greater flexibility across our operations.

"We will continue to ensure our autonomous trains operate safely under the wide range of conditions we experience in the Pilbara, where we record more than eight million kilometres of train travel each year.

"We are working closely with drivers during this transition period as we prepare our employees for new ways of working as a result of automation."

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