Autonomous vehicles lead Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton into cruise control
This article was originally published on Australian Mining
Canberra tech company Seeing Machines is set to introduce hands-free cruise control for regular cars, after gaining global recognition for vastly improving operations for mining truck drivers.
Mining companies such as BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto began employing automated drills and driverless trucks to assist with production and preserve profit margins against a volatile market.
New technologies such these driverless trucks and drones have greatly assisted Rio Tinto in its mining efforts –monitoring stockpile inventories and inspecting geological formations within mines.
According to Seeing Machines CEO Ken Kroeger, the first mass-produced semi-autonomous vehicles will be available to the public next year.
“After using just 10 driverless trucks in 2012, Rio has now expanded to 66. These vehicles can run all day without a driver who needs to lunch or bathroom breaks.”
Kroeger believes the latest innovation from Seeing Machines will include live tracking of road conditions, traffic density and lane markings.
Autonomous drills in underground mines are even more profitable, as employees using normal equipment not only take significant time walking from the opening to the work site, but are operating in dangerous working conditions as well.
According to a survey by International Data Corp, about 69 per cent of 190 mining companies are considering remote-control equipment, while 29 per cent are considering an increased use of robotics.
Caterpillar recently reached a $23 million deal with Seeing Machines for the rights to the mining and rugged industry systems.