As the adoption of autonomous systems in mining advances, small autonomous equipment is growing more affordable and accessible. These technologies can be an option for different types of operations (e.g., quarries, small-scale mining operations) that do not use large mining-scale equipment. It can also be an entry point for operations that are not ready for large-scale automation. There is also a growing diversity in vendors for smaller equipment, which presents both opportunities and challenges.
To enable the successful adoption of these systems, there is a need for a better understanding and awareness of the unique risks and good practices associated with them.
The objective of this project is to publish a collaborative white paper that can help the industry move forward in the space of small size autonomous equipment by providing common considerations and increasing awareness of challenges and opportunities that are specific to them.
General considerations and discussion on the items listed below
Primary focus on small equipment automation in closed environments (future considerations in public spaces secondary)
Future use on-road and where to dump material
Taxonomy of vehicle sizes manufactured and operating globally
Requirements and vocabulary on small truck automation
Parameters and functional requirements
Retrofit or used on existing fleets
Sensors and machine health
Safety and cybersecurity
Out of Scope
Fundamentals on autonomous systems are already covered in the Guideline for the Implementation of Autonomous Systems in Mining and not needed in this publication
Electrification (although relevant and can be seen as a catalyst, it can be a separate topic on its own)
Opportunity in mining plants around electrification and automation
Standardization around rim pool curves and battery inverted efficiency
Detailed or prescriptive guidance on the subject matter listed under “in scope”
Some key challenges and opportunities specific to small size autonomous vehicles are included below:
Highway trucks being brought into mining is a challenge because of axle heights and clearance
There are several unknowns when introducing autonomous vehicles to open roads (e.g., truck design, public interactions, safety cases)
Integration of multi-vendor fleets
Not all start-up companies have the same level of focus on safety as the larger supplier
Smaller haul trucks can be economically beneficial
Solve issues with itinerant workers
Start-up companies typically manufacture smaller, more affordable trucks
More opportunity to decide what vehicle is best for the operation
Opportunity to work with vendors to develop parameters or functional requirements
Opportunity to provide requirements and vocabulary
We’re looking for:
participants to contribute expertise and knowledge as subject matter experts
members to join the steering committee to lead the project
Landscape: Development of a landscape to research work currently being done in the space of small autonomous vehicles to avoid overlap.
White paper: Describe challenges and synergies. This white paper should be a discussion document with others working in the same area to increase collaboration and socialization on the topic. Sharing case studies should also be part of the process of identifying what information already exists.