Prof Robert Hall (Professor - University of Alberta)
Autonomous mining equipment are said to improve the overall mining process, but bring with them a range of challenges that need to be addressed to take full advantage of their benefits. One of the key driving forces behind the shift to autonomous equipment is the thought that autonomous equipment are more cost effective, safe, accurate, efficient and reliable compared to their manual counterparts. It is a challenging task to implement autonomy on a mine site and installing a system does not guarantee success unless strong emphasis is placed on human machine interface, addressing associated communication, socio-economic and safety challenges. This paper presents a brief history of autonomous trucks along with the latest developments and implementations in the mining industry. Key challenges associated with safety and communication, impact of operators role and other socio-economic impacts of autonomous trucks are also addressed. Some of the advantages and disadvantages are highlighted in this paper along with a brief discussion on current thoughts for successful implementation of autonomous trucks in the mining industry.