Driverless Trucks Collide at WA mine

No one was hurt when two autonomous trucks collided at a BHP iron ore mine in the Pilbara over the weekend.

The mining giant told The West Australian that the collision between the driverless vehicles happened about 11pm on Saturday at the Jimblebar mine site, about 40km easy of Newman.

A company spokeswoman told the newspaper that significant rainfall had “deteriorated the road surface, causing one vehicle to slip into the other”.

It is understood that one of the trucks was travelling at about 27km/hr and the other at 14km/hr and reports said one was loaded and one empty.

The mine was the first of the BHP’s Pilbara portfolio to move completely to driverless trucks and had a fleet of about 50 autonomous trucks by the end of 2017.

The company said at the time that autonomous haulage had helped reduce costs by 20 per cent and shielded employees from dangerous situations.

Last month two driverless trucks collided at Fortescue Metals Group’s Christmas Creek iron ore mine.

In that case, one truck reversed into the other, which was stationary, following a wi-fi outage.

It was believed a remote operations error caused the accident when wi-fi was restored.

Fortescue said the incident was not a failure of its autonomous haulage system.

BHP’s accident follows the release last week of a report into its runaway ore train crash, which caused losses of about $300 million.


Source: The West Australian, 19 March 2019