Driverless freight train completes first test run in Australia

Copyright © 2017 Rio Tinto

Rio Tinto said it is still on course to launch the world’s first fully automated, heavy haul service next year after completing a trial run in Western Australia.

A pilot service between Wombat Junction and Paraburdoo – a distance of around 100km – has now been completed.

The company hopes to commission its AutoHaul system by the end of next year once it has overcome the necessary safety and regulatory approvals.

Rio Tinto said it has been operating services in autonomous mode since the first quarter of 2017. Around half of its collective fleet kilometres are currently completed in autonomous mode with drivers on board.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Chris Salisbury said in a statement: “This successful pilot run puts us firmly on track to meet our goal of operating the world’s first fully autonomous heavy haul, long distance rail network, which will unlock significant safety and productivity benefits for the business.”

He added: “Rio Tinto is proud to be a leader in innovation and autonomous technology in the global mining industry which is delivering long-term competitive advantages as we build the mines of the future.

“New roles are being created to manage our future operations and we are preparing our current workforce for new ways of working to ensure they remain part of our industry.”