In the past few years, there has been great progress when it comes to self-driving cars which was followed by autonomous trains. Tests have been conducted on such trains, with a person or two still occupying while running on track. And it’s only now that a train has gone fully autonomous without a person on board.
Now currently in operation in Western Australia, the world’s first fully autonomous train has been developed by mining corporation Rio Tinto. The company had announced that the train had completed its first uncrewed mission, travelling nearly 100 kilometers (62 miles) in Rio Tinto’s iron ore operations in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
Photo via Mining
The trip was completed safely. It was monitored in real-time by Rio Tinto teams and representatives of the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator, both on the ground and at the Operations Centre in Perth.
“Rio Tinto is proud to be a leader in innovation and autonomous technology in the global mining industry which is delivering long-term competitive advantages as we build the mines of the future,” said Rio Tinto Iron Ore Chief Executive Chris Salisbury, in a statement.
“New roles are being created to manage our future operations and we are preparing our current workforce for new ways of working to ensure they remain part of our industry,” he added.
Video by Rio Tinto
In early 2017, Rio Tinto had used autonomous trains with about 50% of its train operations being completed autonomously, but with drivers present at all times. It’s the first time in the world that a train has traveled without a driver or personnel at all.
The company is preparing itself to have a fully autonomous train network by late 2018. Its focus on automation technology and innovation is for safety, environmental friendliness, and productivity.
But it is not without challenges: Rio Tinto has to meet Australia’s safety and acceptance criteria and acquire necessary regulatory approvals.
Rio Tinto operates about 200 locomotives on more than 1,700 kilometres of track in the Pilbara, transporting ore from 16 mines to four port terminals.
Source: Rio Tinto