Chinese autonomous haulage technology major TAGE Idriver says the most common question it is asked in mining is how fast the autonomous trucks can run. “Why do so many people pay attention to the speed of driverless mining trucks? Mining trucks running faster transport more ore, which can naturally bring more income to mining enterprises. But due to the uneven road surface of the mine, plus the ramps and curves, the higher the speed of the mining truck, the higher the fuel consumption, and the more potential damage to the frame and parts.”
TAGE says to build an unmanned transportation system for mining companies is not only about making unmanned mining trucks run, but arguably more importantly, integrating unmanned and intelligent systems with actual production plans, operational techniques, the mine environment and output requirements. “Combined, this kind of integrated unmanned transportation system in the mining area can bring the maximum production benefits to mining enterprises.”
The new driverless transportation system Unmanned Valley™ which TAGE Idriver is developing it says is capable of selecting the most suitable operating speed based on factors such as actual vehicle conditions, road conditions, environment and production needs of mine customers. For example, when the price of fuel is stable and the price of commodity/metal rises, the ‘transportation priority’ mode is turned on. While still ensuring safety, the mining truck will run faster and help create higher profits. When the production plan and market conditions are more flat, the ‘economic priority’ mode can maintain low fuel consumption and reduce maintenance with lower speed operation of vehicles on the premise of meeting the production plan but also reduce operating costs.
“The mining truck is a functional vehicle for transportation and production, not a racing car on the track. Under the premise of safety in production, the continuous and efficient completion of production tasks is particularly important for mine operations. The Unmanned Valley™ system seeks a balance between efficiency and safety. Through comprehensive analysis of mine plans, prevailing market conditions, vehicle conditions, road conditions and environmental factors, it calculates and decides the safest and most efficient operating speed.”
Andy Zheng, TAGE Idriver Vice President, told IM the system is at an early development stage but it is being tested in a simulation environment and it has plans to put it into operation at a new project going forward adding that there is significant interest from mining customers and that it sees the new functionality as being a potential game changer in mining.