It is certain that the future of material haulage in mining and construction is autonomous electric. While Tier 1 mining companies paved the way towards autonomous haulage for large trucks years ago, most of the mining, quarrying and construction operations are far away from switching to autonomy. This is mainly due to system cost and flexibility that would eventually make it feasible to operate smaller trucks on smaller and especially more dynamic sites. So far, the mine plan is mainly set for autonomous operation, which is obviously not sustainable for most operations. This ultimately means that autonomous haulage systems (AHS) must evolve into a next generation with highest degree of autonomy. For this reason, we have developed and successfully piloted our autonomy platform that is able to cope with the ever-changing environments as part of a de-centralized system.
Usability is key for acceptance of autonomy especially in small to medium sized mining and industrial applications. For this purpose, we have designed a simple user interface which allows the shovel operator to orchestrate the entire autonomous machine fleet at his fingertips.
Other impediments to autonomy are commissioning time and infrastructure requirements. This is especially due to extensive comms network and high-precision GNSS requirements, autonomous operating zone preparation, mapping, etc. Our autonomy platform is designed to safely operate even with network or GNSS interruptions. Due to its high degree of autonomy the trucks do not frequently require connection. Furthermore, it encompasses smart radar-based localization for GNSS-challenged environments. Finally, our advanced radar-perception enables safe operation in even the toughest conditions like snowstorms in the alpine mountains. This is how we envision autonomy everywhere.