Rio Tinto rolls out driverless trucks to transport iron ore at mines in Australia

Jessica Morris
Follow Jessica
Driverless trucks could save 500 work hours a year (Source: Getty)

Mining giant Rio Tinto has rolled out driverless trucks to transport iron ore at two of its mines in Australia.

The driverless trucks are able to operate 24 hours, 365 days a year, according to the report by ABC news, and industry insiders estimate each truck could save up to 500 work hours a year.

But the miner still forks out for other costs, such as the running and maintenance of the systems used to control them.

"One of the biggest costs we have got is maintaining mobile assets, so we spend a lot of time on our operator training, education," Josh Bennett, Yandicoogina mine operations manager, said.

Read more: Self-driving cars, smart dust and the new tech trends

"So, there is obvious capital savings, in terms of setting up camps, flying people to site, there is less people so there is less operating costs, but there are some costs that come into running the system and maintenance of the system as well."

Nevertheless, driverless trucks reduce riskier roles where tired employees can make dangerous decisions.

"We have taken away a very high risk role, where employees are exposed to fatigue," Bennett said.

"It is quite challenging to get repeatability out of a human, one of the advantages we have had with autonomous haulage particularly in the truck fleet we notice we are getting consistency in terms of the way the machines are operating."

Related articles