Automotive

See Australia’s First Fully Autonomous Train Run

06 October 2017

Metal supply and mining giant Rio Tinto has made progress in developing AutoHaul®, the world’s first fully-autonomous heavy haul, long distance railway system.

Rio Tinto has been working on autonomous train technology since 2012. (Source: Rio Tinto)Rio Tinto has been working on autonomous train technology since 2012. (Source: Rio Tinto)A 100 km pilot run, without the services of a driver, was completed at the company’s iron ore operations in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Rio Tinto has successfully completed the first fully autonomous rail journey at its iron ore operations in the Pilbara region of Western Australia as the company progresses toward full commissioning of the AutoHaul® project in late 2018. The run was monitored in real-time by Rio Tinto teams and representatives of the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator, both on the ground and at the Operations Centre in Perth.

The company currently operates around 200 locomotives on more than 1,700 km of track in the Pilbara, transporting ore from 16 mines to four port terminals. Trains started running in autonomous mode in the first quarter of 2017. Currently about 50 per cent of pooled fleet rail km are completed in autonomous mode (with drivers on-board) and 90 percent of pooled fleet production tons are AutoHaul® enhanced.

Full commissioning of the AutoHaul® project is slated for late 2018.

To contact the author of this article, email sue.himmelstein@ieeeglobalspec.com


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Discussion – 1 comment

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Re: See Australia’s First Fully Autonomous Train Run
#1
2017-Oct-07 11:26 AM

It looks like this is a form of positive train control.

From what I understand, this system relies on an active electrical grid to power the guidance and control of the train.

What I was unable to find was information on what would happen if the grid went down, i. e. would the train keep going or would it come to a stop ?

Also, what happens if there is an object on the tracks, does the train stop or just run it over ?

Lastly, why are the corporations in such a big hurry to remove the operator cabin, does the cab create such a large coefficient of drag as to severally hinder the bottom line ?

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