As part of its project to develop a fully autonomous road train fleet, Mineral Resources has handed the keys to a world-first road train over to its project partner, Hexagon AB, for conversion to autonomous operation. 

The costum-made, off-road, triple-trailer road train has been designed and developed by MinRes and Hexagon for MinRes’ Onslow Iron project in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

MinRes’ Director of Technology and Innovation, David Geraghty, with Hexagon Chief Synergy Officer Autonomous Solutions, Gordan Dale. Image credit: Mineral Resources.

MinRes Director of Technology and Innovation, David Geraghty, presented the keys to the highly-customised Kenworth C509 prime mover at Hexagon AB’s Perth workshop.

The road trains will be converted to autonomous operation by Hexagon AB using technology developed by the autonomy specialist’s engineering team. The vehicles are being tested with check drivers at MinRes sites in the Yilgarn region.

From January 2024, ten vehicles a month will be converted over the next year to meet Onslow Iron’s requirements. Once deployed, MinRes will have a fleet of 120 fully autonomous road trains.

Each triple trailer road train will carry 330t of iron ore approximately 150km on a private, sealed haul road from the Ken’s Bore mine site to the Port of Ashburton.

Safety is at the forefront of the project’s design, with grade separation ensuring there is no interaction between the road trains on the haul road and vehicles using public roads.

Mr Geraghty said that this is a significant milestone for Onslow Iron, with autonomous trucks forming an essential part of the project’s supply chain.

“Automation brings many benefits, including enhancing road safety, increasing operational efficiencies and reducing emissions,” Mr Gregahty said. 

Hexagon Chief Synergy Officer Autonomous Solutions, Gordan Dale, said that this is a complimentary partnership, with MinRes leading the way in mining services and Hexagon leading the way in autonomous technical capability.

“We are excited to commence installing the autonomous technology in our Perth workshop, with the aim to complete a fit out of a truck in just two-to-three days.”

Featured image: Aerial view of a road train in transit. Image credit: Mineral Resources.

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