Fortescue Metals Group has turned four Ford Rangers into driverless utes at its Chichester Hub mining operations in Western Australia.
With the assistance of Ford Australia, the Ford Rangers have been retrofitted with an on-board vehicle automation system.
This features an integrated Lidar/Radar perception system for obstacle detection and avoidance, an independent safety management and fail safe braking system and extensive built-in system monitoring and fault response capability.
Fortescue’s Technology and Autonomy team developed the autonomous light vehicles (ALV’s) to work as a driverless equipment transfer service for the mobile maintenance team at Christmas Creek.
The company said the ALV’s would remove the need for fitters to make around 12,000 28km round trips annually to collect equipment and parts.
The company said its successful deployment of ALV’s at Christmas Creek would provide the opportunity to implement a similar system at other operational sites to improve safety, productivity and efficiency.
“The autonomous light vehicle project is a significant advancement of our in-house automation capability, building on our leading autonomous haulage system (AHS) program which has already delivered significant productivity and efficiency improvements for the business,” Fortescue chief executive officer Elizabeth Gaines said.
“With the flexibility to introduce similar systems into other mobile assets, this project is fundamental to our future mobile equipment automation projects.”
Fortescue is not the only WA miner to host utes at the cutting edge of technology.
BHP Nickel West mine is the site of a small-scale trial involving a LandCruiser 70 Series single-cab ute that has been converted to a battery-electric vehicle by Toyota Australia.