More word of robot rising
Canberra engineering firm Seeing Machines is looking to introduce hands-free cruise control for regular cars, but it has some innovations in store for mining truck drivers as well.
BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and other are already employing automated drills and driverless trucks on mine site, which they say can boost production while preserving profit margins in a volatile resource market.
Seeing Machines CEO Ken Kroeger says Rio Tinto is one of the companies most keen to bring in the robots.
“After using just 10 driverless trucks in 2012, Rio has now expanded to 66. These vehicles can run all day without a driver who needs to lunch or bathroom breaks,” he told reporters this week.
Mr Kroeger says mass-produced semi-autonomous vehicles should be available outside the mining sector next year, with features like live tracking of road conditions, traffic density and lane markings.
A survey by International Data Corp recently found that 69 per cent of 190 mining companies it reviewed were considering more remote-control equipment, while 29 per cent were looking for more robotics.
Seeing Machines has signed a $23 million deal with Caterpillar for the rights to mining and offroad industrial systems.