World-first autonomous trains deployed at Rio Tinto’s iron ore operations

Posted: 3 January 2019 | | No comments yet

The $940 million AutoHaul™ programme is focused on automating trains transporting iron ore to Rio Tinto’s port facilities in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.


Rio Tinto's iron ore operations in Western Australia

Rio Tinto has successfully deployed AutoHaul™, establishing the world’s largest robot and first automated heavy-haul, long distance rail network.

Since completing the first loaded run in July 2018, Rio Tinto increased the number of autonomous journeys across its iron ore operations in Western Australia in a controlled manner. Now, over one million kilometres have been travelled autonomously.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore Managing Director Rail, Port & Core Services, Ivan Vella, said: “The safe and successful deployment of AutoHaul across our network is a strong reflection of the pioneering spirit inside Rio Tinto. It’s been a challenging journey to automate a rail network of this size and scale in a remote location like the Pilbara, but early results indicate significant potential to improve productivity, providing increased system flexibility and reducing bottlenecks.”

Over the coming months Rio Tinto plan to continue refining the autonomous operations to ensure value is maximised. The company stated that it will continue to work closely with drivers and do not expect any redundancies in 2019 as a result of the deployment of AutoHaul.

The network is the world’s first heavy-haul, long distance autonomous rail operation.

Locomotives carrying AutoHaul software are fitted with on-board cameras allowing for constant monitoring from the Operations Centre. All public rail crossings on the network are fitted with CCTV cameras and have been upgraded to the highest safety standards.