Driverless mining train in Australia claimed as the 'world's largest robot'

The $940 million rail project was designed to ferry mining resources from remote regions to ports.

An Australian mining firm that constructed a huge, autonomous railway system in a remote region of the country's outbacks claims that it is also the "world's largest robot".

The Mining corporation, called Rio Tinto, says that it has been working to finish the autonomous rail system 'AutoHaul' for many years now in a remote region of Pilbara, Australia.

The $940 million rail project isn't meant for passengers, but to ferry the iron-ore giant's mining resources and operations from mines to ports, from remote parts of Australia.

The company's interest to transport its ores on driverless trains has been a work in progress since 2012.

Rio Tinto has finished deploying its automated train network in the Pilbara. Image courtesy: Rio Tinto

Rio Tinto has finished deploying its automated train network in the Pilbara. Image courtesy: Rio Tinto

After seeking approvals from the national safety regulator to test "the world's largest robot" in May, it conducted the first fully automated mine-to-port rail journey in July this year.

Since then, Rio Tinto has gradually increased the load and distance of the shuttle's journeys, now having close to a million kilometres of "autonomous" travel under its belt, according to a Sydney Morning Herald report.

“It’s been a challenging journey to automate a rail network of this size and scale in a remote location like the Pilbara,” Ivan Vella, Rio Tinto’s managing director told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“But early results indicate a significant potential to improve productivity, providing increased system flexibility and reducing bottlenecks.”

The mine-to-port shuttle is only one part of a far more ambitious plan to bring robotics, automation and driverless technology into an industry that is still fairly undecided about embracing the brave new world of modern technology.


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