Hitachi Rail and Rio Tinto have unveiled their newest and most significant milestone to date on their tandem journey for the AutoHaul automation network: the commissioning of the autonomous rail transport system for the new Gudai-Darri iron ore mine in Western Australia’s Pilbara.

hitachirailThe world’s first fully automated heavy-haul, long-distance rail system, AutoHaul will enable 220 trains, monitored remotely from an operations centre in Perth, to travel safely and efficiently across more than 1,866 kilometres of track from mines to ports without the need for onboard drivers.

The greenfield mine development has involved the construction of a 166-kilometre rail spur to connect the new mine to Rio Tinto’s existing AutoHaul rail network in the region. Before the commissioning, the network totaled 1,700 km.

Hitachi Rail was technical lead behind AutoHaul’s development and provided the systems and software to connect the new section of rail for Gudai-Darri, including onboard and control centre technology, trackside equipment, radio base stations, and automatic train operation (ATO) interface software for locomotive control, level crossing safety and location tracking. All systems and software are now operational, the company added.

“The Gudai-Darri AutoHaul network expansion project is a natural extension of Hitachi Rail’s long-term collaboration to deliver innovative rail transport solutions for Rio Tinto,” Hitachi Rail Australia Senior Director Roslyn Stuart said.

“The project has seen Hitachi Rail and the Rio Tinto AutoHaul team deliver another ‘first’, with back-to-back loading (high performing automated train loading) to be introduced on the Gudai-Darri mine rail loop.”

Rio Tinto has been on a lengthy and high-profile mission to operate the world’s largest integrated portfolio of iron ore assets with a “tangible commitment” for net-zero carbon emissions. The Gudai-Darri mine will also deploy autonomous haul trucks, fully autonomous water trucks and autonomous training solutions, and will be partially powered by a 34-megawatt photovoltaic solar farm solar plant.

Source: Hitachi Rail

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