Friday 24th Jan, 2020

Rio Tinto successfully launches world’s largest robot

Copyright © 2018 Rio Tinto
Copyright © 2018 Rio Tinto

The Western Australian Government has congratulated Rio Tinto on the successful rollout of its $940 million AutoHaul rail technology.

Called the world’s largest robot, AutoHaul’s 2.4-kilometre-long trains deliver iron ore from 16 Rio Tinto mines to ports in Dampier and Cape Lambert.

Each locomotive has on-board cameras that livestream to Rio Tinto’s operation centre at Perth Airport.

The trains have safely travelled more than three million kilometres autonomously across the Pilbara’s 1700-kilometre rail network.

AutoHaul’s software was deployed in December 2018 and became the world’s first heavy-haul, long distance rail network.

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Hitachi-Ansaldo STS, Calibre, New York Air Brake and GE Wabtec partnered with Rio Tinto to develop and rollout the technology.

WA Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston congratulated all of the project partners for their hard work and dedication over the past decade in delivering the project.

“AutoHaul has brought the rail freight industry in this country into the 21st century and is rightfully the subject of global interest,” he said.

“I’d also like to mention that the development of the world’s biggest robot is such a success because of the contribution from Western Australia’s skilled engineers and innovative workers.”

Rio Tinto Iron Ore managing director Ivan Vella said that the project had attracted worldwide interest and cemented Western Australia as a heavy-haul rail leader.

“The success of AutoHaul would not have been possible without the expertise, collaboration and dedication of teams within Rio Tinto and our numerous partners,” Vella said.

Hitachi Rail STS President Americas and APAC Business Unit, Michele Fracchiolla, said the company is proud of the lead technical and delivery role it played in enabling the deployment.

“This is a new technical benchmark for the freight rail industry worldwide and the result of a long-established and collaborative partnership between Rio Tinto and Hitachi Rail STS,” Fracchiolla said.

“Now that the trains are running autonomously, the levels of continuous improvement that can be achieved in safety, operational efficiency and sustainability are endless, and we look forward to continuing to collaborate with Rio Tinto to enhance the AutoHaul system.”