A large-scale mine haul truck. Image: Lucian Coman/shutterstock.com

The first Autonomous Haulage Solution (AHS) for zero emission vehicles is a step closer to development with the announcement of a partnership between Fortescue and Liebherr Mining. 

The partnership will see the pair collaborate to jointly develop and validate a fully integrated AHS, which will help progress Fortescue’s goal of delivering zero emissions autonomous haul trucks to its iron ore operations in the Pilbara, Western Australia. The move also comes as part of Fortescue’s target to achieve real zero terrestrial emissions (Scope 1 and 2) across its Australian iron ore operations by 2030.  

Fortescue has been at the forefront of integrating AHS into mining operations, having completed one of the largest fleet conversions to autonomous haulage in the industry in 2020.   

The new AHS, which is being developed, tested and validated in partnership with Liebherr at Fortescue’s iron ore operations, integrates a FMS (Fleet Management System), onboard autonomy kit for the T 264 truck, and a High Precision Machine Guidance system for loading equipment.  

The FMS is designed to optimise fleet utilisation and maximise productivity, while ensuring efficient consumption of fuel and energy, helping to reduce carbon emissions.  

Fortescue Metals’ Chief Executive Officer, Dino Otranto, said, “Our deep expertise in autonomous haulage, that has come from operating over 200 diesel autonomous haul trucks across our mine sites, has enabled Fortescue and Liebherr to develop a Fleet Management System that uniquely targets efficiency and unlocks untapped capacity in our fleet.   

“The partnership with Liebherr has enabled us to jointly develop the Fleet Management Systems, which provide us with an OEM agnostic solution that can be integrated with any autonomous platform including trucks, drills, watercarts or any other heavy mining equipment. This critical technology puts our business in full control of our development priorities and roadmap.”  

The AHS enables control and coordination of mixed fleets of autonomous vehicles, including selected autonomous ultra-class mining trucks, autonomous road trains and autonomous light vehicles.   

Liebherr Mining’s EVP R&D, Engineering, and Production, Oliver Weiss, said “Liebherr has always prioritised market-led product development and we are privileged to be partnering with Fortescue to collectively develop and deploy this Autonomous Haulage Solution. Our collaborative efforts will be beneficial, not only for Fortescue, but for the entire mining industry.”  

This latest collaboration between Liebherr and Fortescue to deliver a fully integrated AHS marks an expansion of the existing partnership between the two companies.   

The partnership began in June 2022, when the two companies announced their intention to build a zero emissions haulage solution using Liebherr’s OEM experience and Fortescue’s fuel cell battery and battery-electric technology.   

‘Zero emissions’ when used in relation to vehicles means that either that a vehicle’s exhaust only emits water vapour when in operation or that the vehicle is battery-electric powered without any exhaust emissions. 

Image: Lucian Coman/shutterstock.com

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