Fortescue deploys autonomous light vehicles at Chichester Hub

Iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group has created and deployed a fleet of autonomous light vehicles (ALV’s, pictured) at the company’s mining operations in the Chichester Hub in the Pilbara.

Developed by Fortescue’s Technology and Autonomy team with the assistance of Ford Australia, the vehicles aim to improve the efficiency of the Christmas Creek mobile maintenance team.

The ALV’s remove the need for fitters to make around 12,000, 28-kilometre round trips annually to collect equipment and parts.

Four Ford Rangers have been retrofitted with an on-board vehicle automation system to support a driverless equipment transfer service, which frees up team members to spend more time on maintaining assets.

The system features an integrated Lidar/Radar perception system for obstacle detection and dynamic obstacle avoidance, a comprehensive independent safety management and fail safe braking system and extensive built-in system monitoring and fault response capability.

Perth fail-safe braking manufacturer company Advanced Braking Technology is one of a number of Australian suppliers for the new vehicle.

Fortescue Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Gaines said: “The autonomous light vehicle project is a significant advancement of our in-house automation capability, building on our leading autonomous haulage system (AHS) program which has already delivered significant productivity and efficiency improvements for the business.

“With the flexibility to introduce similar systems into other mobile assets, this project is fundamental to our future mobile equipment automation projects.”

Ford Australia President and Chief Executive Officer Andrew Birkic said: “Ford globally is at the forefront of research into autonomous vehicles, and working with companies like Fortescue is critical to gaining an insight into specific user applications.”

Picture: Fortescue Metals Group

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