Small Vehicle Automation

Published: December 08,2023

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.

This project will be led by the Autonomous Mining Working Group.

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.

Objectives

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.

In Scope

  • 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”
 

Background

Some key challenges and opportunities specific to small size autonomous vehicles are included below:

Challenges

  • 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
  • Cybersecurity challenges
  • Not all start-up companies have the same level of focus on safety as the larger supplier

Opportunities

  • 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

Get involved

We’re looking for:
  • Participants to contribute expertise and knowledge as subject matter experts
  • Members to join the steering committee to lead the project

Deliverables

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.

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