Rio Tinto has confirmed that it is on track to completely transition to driverless trains across its entire Pilbara operation by the end of 2018.
The current state of Rio Tinto trains in Pilbara is a part autonomous operation, known as AutoHaul. Rio Tinto revealed yesterday that in the second quarter of 2017 the AutoHaul system completed 20% of all train kilometres autonomously. However, Rio did confirm that all autonomous trains still had a driver on board to monitor operations.
Rio Tinto is expecting a complete roll out by the end of next year. This is despite revealing last year that it was facing challenges integrating the complex automation software into its train operations to complete an entirely autonomous system.
Rio first floated this concept as part of its Mine of the Future project in 2008 and officially began testing AutoHaul 2014.
In 2012, Hitachi Rail Systems was awarded a US$294 million contract to develop and deliver Autohaul.