Rio Tinto's Autonomous Train System Fully Operational

The $940 million AutoHaulâ„¢ program is focused on automating trains transporting iron ore to Rio Tinto's port facilities in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Rio Tinto announced Dec. 28 that it has successfully deployed AutoHaul™ thus "establishing the world's largest robot and first automated heavy-haul, long distance rail network."

Since completing the first loaded run in July, Rio Tinto has steadily increased the number of autonomous journeys across its iron ore operations in Western Australia in a controlled and safe manner, with more than 1 million kilometers successfully traveled autonomously.

"The safe and successful deployment of AutoHaul™ across our network is a strong reflection of the pioneering spirit inside Rio Tinto. It's been a challenging journey to automate a rail network of this size and scale in a remote location like the Pilbara, but early results indicate significant potential to improve productivity, providing increased system flexibility and reducing bottlenecks," said Ivan Vella, Rio Tinto Iron Ore managing director, Rail, Port & Core Services.

The $940 million AutoHaul™ program is focused on automating trains transporting iron ore to Rio Tinto's port facilities in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. The company operates about 200 locomotives on more than 1,700 kilometers of track in the Pilbara, transporting ore from 16 mines to four port terminals. The average return distance of these trains is about 800 kilometers, with the average journey cycle, including loading and dumping, taking about 40 hours. Locomotives carrying AutoHaul™ software are fitted with on-board cameras allowing for constant monitoring from an operations center, and all public rail crossings on the network are fitted with CCTV cameras and have been upgraded to the highest safety standards, according to the company.

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