Mining plays an important role in the world economy. With the pursuit of zero casualties and entering of an era of skilled workers shortage in developed countries, it was estimated that by 2020, 50% of the major mining companies in Australia, Europe and the Americas would be using the autonomous products, and some mines have decided to adopt autonomous mining equipment wholly. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and autonomous technologies in the mining industry started more than a decade ago with autonomous mining trucks (AMT) or autonomous haulage systems (AHS). Their applications improve the technological, economic and environmental outlook of the mining industry. The impact of advancement in technology and automation in the mining industry is realised in the following ways:

  • Cost reduction 
  • Efficiency
  • Improved productivity
  • Reducing exposure of workers to hazardous conditions
  • Continuous production
  • Improved safety

Global Road Technology takes a closer look at autonomous mining trucks and haulage systems focusing on what they are, the best brands on the market, dust issues associated with AMTs and GRT’s shift to autonomy. 

What are autonomous mining trucks or autonomous haulage systems? 

Autonomous mining trucks (AMT) are driverless mine heavy vehicles that can sense the environment and navigate on the mine haul road surface without any human intervention. AMTs reduce the vulnerability to the risk of equipment contact with auxiliary equipment or equipped manual vehicles (EMV). Inside the AMT all data obtained is compiled so that the software can make a suitable decision. Calculating the maximum speed allowed to a nearby equipment or estimated time for an AMT to break are possible decisions. Determining the exact location of every AMT and EMV is mandatory to prevent accidents. The intelligent systems that run AMTs include Frontrunner for Komatsu and Command for Caterpillar. To communicate, AMTs rely on:

  • Wireless communications 
  • Object avoidance/detection systems 
  • Global Positioning System (GPS)

These are cutting-edge driverless vehicles enabling the mining industry to adopt and inherit the full advantage of Industry 4.0. These trucks can carry up to four hundred tons of ore and accurately transport it without human interaction. AHS is the state-of-the-art in the mining industry for autonomous vehicles. Their first system development endeavour was in 2005 in Chile.

Are environmental regulations, health and safety concerns or potential profit loss a concern right now?

The successful reputation of existing autonomous mines around the world notably increased the demand for AHS in surface mining during the last few years and there also applicable in underground mining.

Advantages of autonomous mining trucks and haulage systems

These are the following advantages of AHS: 

  • Can work 24/7
  • No breaks required
  • Reliability benefits 
  • Reduce human errors
  • Up to 20% productivity advantage 
  • Increased efficiency in operations
  • Production and equipment utilization 
  • No idling time as there is no shift change
  • Do not require humans to be present at dangerous areas
  • Improved fuel usage by 4% with 25-50% reduced idle time
  • Improves productivity of miners and safety of human resource 
  • New skills and opportunities for the mining and maintenance teams

Best autonomous trucks & haulage systems

  • Caterpillar – Cat 789C, 789D, 793D, 793F, and 797F trucks
  • Komatsu – 930E, 980E
  • Hitachi – EH5000
  • Volvo – FH16
  • Sandvik – TH545i, TH663i and TH551i
  • BelAZ – 7513R
  • XEMC – SF31904

Several manufacturers have been working on AMTs. To realize the end-to-end autonomous mining operations the Japanese company, Komatsu launched the AHS to operate and manage fleets of self-driving mining trucks with capacities between 200 and 400 tons. The Komatsu models on the market including the Komatsu 930E (290 t) and Komatsu 980E and these have been predominantly used in Australia and back where the AMT cradle begun in Chile. Japan boasts a very lucrative market for AMTs with another rival company Hitachi which produces the Hitachi EH500 (296 t)  which has been used in Australia. United States of America company Caterpillar released their own fleet of AMTs which include the Caterpillar 793F (227 t), Caterpillar 789C, Caterpillar 793D and the Caterpillar 789D (181 t) and they have been utilized in Australia, Brazil, USA and Ukraine. Swedish company Sandvik developed autonomous loaders and trucks which operate in underground mines and the popular models include TH545i, TH663i and TH551i. Belarusian company BelAZ has the BelAZ 7513R (130 t) on the market which has been used extensively in Russia. Swedish company Volvo has also entered the AMT market with their Volvo FH16 which was trialled in Norway. Chinese run company XEMC also has a market share with their XEMC SF31904 (108t). These are some of the best AMTs on the market. 

Autonomous Mining Trucks and Haulage Systems

Dust issues with autonomous mine trucks 

Dust issues with AMTs are experienced in autonomous operating zones (AOZ). The AMT cycle times also increase the amount of dust that is generated on the haul roads. A lot of the dust issues are embedded in haul road maintenance practices and these are the contributing factors to AHTs slow or stop events:

  • Proximity – Water Truck (WT) or Grader (GRD) operating in the vicinity of AMTs.
  • Loss of Traction – WT over-watering road leading to AMT losing traction. 
  • Rutting – Poor road conditions get detected as obstacles by the AMTs.
  • Dust – Speed restrictions are placed on AMTs when dust levels are too high.
  • Knock-on effect – AMT stopped behind AMT that been affected by either proximity, loss of traction, rutting, or dust. 

GRT’s shift to autonomy – Autonomous dosing units for Dust Suppression

The increasing demand for an “always connected” paradigm is pushing AMT manufacturers to find more innovative ways to meet the connectivity needs. Whilst that is happening, GRT is a step forward to meet the needs of connectivity by providing SMART (Sustainable, Mine, Autonomous, Reporting, Technology) dosing units that can be integrated into the Integrated Remote Operations Centre of the mine and ensure seamless haul road maintenance best practices.

Australian made automated dosing units have been developed to accurately and automatically dose the GRT: Haul-Loc into the water, typically at the standpipe although there are truck mounted models available. Most mines opt for solar units at the standpipe, due to the lack of power available, and the safety considerations. Our latest SMART dosing units include telemetry which act as a data hub and allow for direct reporting, tracking and control of dosing. Advantages of using GRT’s automated dosing units with autonomous mining trucks include:

  • Water consumption (and savings) 
  • Number of water truck fills per chosen reporting period (shift/week/month) 
  • Water truck efficiency 
  • Product levels and dosage rates 
  • Operational data on the pumps and power units 

Dust suppression using GRT’s SMART dust suppression units has the following benefits in Autonomous mines:

  • Improved cycles times – reduction of AMT stoppages and slowdown events caused by road maintenance.
  • Increased safety – reduction of road maintenance vehicle interactions with AMTs.
  • Cost reduction – reduction in AMT fuel burn and maintenance costs by minimising AMT slow down and stoppage events. 
  • Increased social value – reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by increasing AMTs fuel efficiency. 


Gaber et al. 2021. Autonomous Haulage Systems in the Mining Industry: Cybersecurity, Communication and Safety Issues and Challenges. Electronics. 10. 1357. 

Gao et al. 2019. Parallel End-to-End Autonomous Mining: An IoT-Oriented Approach. IEEE Internet of Things Journal.