Latest News

Komatsu’s Autonomous Haulage System passes 330 million tonne landmark

The Autonomous Haulage System (AHS) pioneered by global mining and
construction equipment giant Komatsu for large mining operations, has passed a
landmark milestone of 330-million tonnes of material moved.

Based on conventional large mining trucks, Komatsu’s FrontRunner
autonomous trucks are not remote controlled but run completely autonomously
with a full truck fleet monitored by a single controller located thousands of
kilometres away. Operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, these trucks
deliver significant safety, productivity, reliability, performance and
operational benefits to mine fleet owners.

Komatsu Australia’s Managing Director Sean Taylor observes that Komatsu
leads the way globally in the successful implementation of autonomous haulage
systems in production mining. Several years of research and development effort
have been invested by the company to ensure the safe, productive and reliable
operation of autonomous trucks, both in Australia and around the world.

Used for hauling either overburden to waste dumps or paddock dumps for
spreading, or mined resources to the crusher area or stockpiles, Komatsu
FrontRunner trucks are typically loaded by conventionally operated manned
loading tools such as shovels or front-end loaders. Each truck is equipped with
a combination of vehicle controllers, precision GPS, an obstacle detection
system (ODS) using radar and laser, and a wireless network system developed by

The AHS Central Control System uses a detailed map of the mine area,
including haul roads, loading areas, dump areas and refuelling and maintenance
areas to assign required routes to each truck. The

loading tools are also fitted with high precision GPS and an integrated
touch-screen computer showing the location and direction of movement of all
items of mobile plant within the FrontRunner fleet’s operational area.

The loading tool operator uses the on-board touch-screen computer to ‘spot’
the approaching truck to the correct loading location, ‘telling’ the truck when
it can move into position to be loaded, and then move off to the dump area once
it is loaded. The autonomous system is able to determine whether the material has
to be dumped at fixed crusher plant locations for mined ore or the overburden
waste dumps.

According to Mr Taylor, safety has been prioritised during the
development of the FrontRunner system. For instance, the FrontRunner truck’s
ODS can detect light mine vehicles and other mobile mine equipment on the mine
site, enabling it to slow down or stop altogether when required.

The FrontRunner also addresses the problem of fatigue, especially at
night – one of the biggest safety issues with dump truck operation. Mine
personnel report that they feel safer and less stressed with FrontRunner trucks
operating around them because of their constant and predictable movements.

The FrontRunner system has also significantly changed the personnel
requirements to operate and control the trucks. Mr Taylor explains that a
Komatsu 930E truck in a 24/7 operation typically requires up to a total of five
operators to cover shift changes and FIFO work patterns. A FrontRunner truck,
in comparison, requires just a single controller per shift to supervise the
entire truck fleet.

However, autonomous truck operations require significantly higher skills
and more people to maintain and keep the system going, including specialists in
electronics, GPS and control systems.

Komatsu’s FrontRunner system offers a more accurate component life
prediction because they are consistently driven to their optimum operating capabilities
at all times. Tyre wear is also reduced due to the trucks constantly achieving
their optimum travel speeds, acceleration, braking and steering requirements.

In addition to lower fuel consumption, the system ensures increased
productivity and production by eliminating any need to stop for shift changes
or crib breaks; allowing longer periods between service requirements; and
minimising unscheduled downtime.

Send this to a friend