Li Yong, a 45-year-old minecart driver, found three driverless dump trucks on the coal mine site where he worked. The security guards sitting in the co-pilot’s position are computer-savvy college students, staring at computer screens that constantly scroll through English words and data. This screen records the vehicle’s driving and road conditions and is synchronized with the remote control center. Mr Li believes driverless mines will be an inevitable prospect in well-established open-pit mines.
Huito Smart’s two co-force heavy-duty I65 driverless minecarts. Photograph: Zhou Xiaoxuan
Originally image caption China’s driverless minecart is coming
Journalist Zhou Xiaoxuan
“Because no young man wants to be a big bus driver. The young man can’t stay in the mine. Li Yong said. By the end of the year, the number of driverless mines on his mines will increase to ten.
$600 billion market
Li Yong’s coal mine is Inner Mongolia Baoli Coal Co., Ltd. (hereinafter known as Baoli Coal) in the town of Dalat Qibai Mudwell in Ordos City. Three driverless mine cars have been on trial since September.
Baoli Coal is a controlling subsidiary of Datang International Power Generation Co., Ltd. According to the annual output of 1.2 million tons of design requirements, belong smaller coal mines in China’s more than 1000 open-pit coal mines.
The 7.7-square-kilometer Burleigh coal mine will open the northern block next year. The interface reporter’s eyes to the place, the dump truck is layer by layer stripped of earth, has formed a graded step, like the tree’s wheel.
Li Yong saw three driverless dump trucks used to peel and stack the earth, two of the same heavy industry I65 and one Weichai YZT3885A.
Each vehicle is equipped with four lidars, five cameras and four millimeter-wave radars. In the closed loading area, the 600 m mainline and the drainage area, they travel at a uniform speed of less than 30km/h on the established route.
Huito Intelligence’s job map at Poly Coal. Photo credit: Huito Intelligence
Behind the operation of these three dump trucks, is a set of intelligent mine called “fool” unmanned transport system, including the mine car self-driving system, fleet scheduling system, remote control system and so on.
Chen Long, CEO of Huito Intelligent Machines Co., Ltd., the provider of the system, told Interface News that these open-pit coal mines are best suited for unmanned mining vehicles to be put into use.
Liu Shaobin, the site management manager of Baoli Coal, told The Interface News that the cost of stripping earthworks accounts for about 80% of the total cost of coal mining. “Transport fleets are part of the divestment, and fleet costs account for an important part of the coal cost mix. Liu Shaobin said.
In general, coal mines break up transport fleets into teams. In the case of a team that digs the earth, a group usually consists of four dump trucks and an excavator, working two shifts day and night. A car with two drivers and a team of about 10 drivers.
There are nine slag-digging teams at the Baoli coal mine, and two or three coal-digging teams. Together with the management, the coal mine’s transportation team is 140-150. A good dump truck driver, the monthly salary of the owner of the living is about 7500 yuan, the excavator driver’s monthly salary can reach 12,000 yuan.
From this calculation, the coal mine only transport fleet driver costs in the tens of millions of yuan, high operating and management costs.
“Three driverless dump trucks can save at least six drivers. Liu Shaobin said the most important thing is to reduce security risks.
“If there is a problem with the safety of personnel, it is not as simple as a fine, to stop the mine, the person in charge is afraid to bear criminal responsibility.” Liu Shaobin said.
In addition, there is an industry reality that few young people are willing to come to the mine as a big car driver, recruitment is becoming more and more difficult.
As a result of these factors, driverless mine carts began to be commercially available in Chinese mines.
Commercial driverless operations are mainly divided into two areas, one is public roads, mainly highways and other trunk shipping heavy truck driverless, and the other is restricted areas, including such as ports, mines, short-haul unmanned distribution, urban and park sanitation.
Among them, the mine’s driverless market, mainly divided into mining transport and mining vehicles unmanned modification.
According to Chen Long, China’s mining transportation type driverless has more than 300 billion yuan market size, mining vehicles unmanned front and rear-end modifications also have more than 300 billion yuan in size, the future market is expected to have explosive growth.
Commercial New Year
When it comes to driverless, one has to mention a godfather-level character, Wang Yue.
Since the late 1980s, Wang has served as director of system integration verification at NASA/RPI Space Exploration Intelligent Robotics Center, director of network analysis at the New York Manufacturing and Productivity Transfer Center, and later became the head of unmanned systems and space robotics at NASA/UA’s Local Planetary Resource Seints Space Engineering Research Center, director of the Robotics and Automation Laboratory at the University of Arizona, and director of the Center for Advanced Research in Complex Systems.
In 1998, Wang, together with his students and colleagues, wrote the world’s first English monograph on digging and loading unmanned cars.
Wang has also worked with Catpil, Komatsu and BHP Billiton, the world’s largest miner, to study driverless and automated technologies for open-pit copper mines, and has designed unmanned mining, loading and transportation solutions for Chinese companies in Western Australia.
Later, Wang flew back to China to study parallel driving and push the driverless landing. Huito Intelligence is one of Wang’s incubators.
Wang believes that automation of mining operations, mainly mining, loading and transportation, remains the most suitable and reliable application for driverless technology.
Chen Long said that in the mine closed transport road, the mine car on a relatively fixed route for point-to-point transport, which for unmanned minecarts, under the relatively clear “hard rules” of automated operations.
Huito’s initial operation of unmanned dump trucks, the co-pilot will be sitting a security officer responsible for checking and correcting errors. If the operation is malfunctioning or error, you can switch immediately to manual mode, or in the remote control center, the monitor can synchronize on the analog driver, to the computer screen to complete the error correction operation.
The monitoring center syncs the analog driver. Photograph: Zhou Xiaoxuan
Minecarts collect data from sensors and radars, form memories and optimize algorithms, and are increasingly adapting to mine paths that change with the weather.
Chen Long was one of the first driverless players in China. He found it difficult to get support from national projects in the early years (2008-2014) for driverless people at home.
This situation has begun to change in recent years.
In the first half of 2015-2018, capital is entering the driverless space as AI and all aspects of the conditions become more mature. Meanwhile, the Chinese government has also promulgated development plans to encourage informationization, digitization and unmanned construction of mines.
In the capital and policy of the dual benefits, the players gradually increased, in addition to Huito intelligent, there are also step-by-step wisdom line, easy control and intelligence driving and other technology start-upcompanies.
Xuzhou Engineering Machinery Group Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as Xugong Group), Inner Mongolia North Heavy Industry Group Northern Corporation (hereinafter referred to as The Northern Shares, 600262.SH), China Central Car, these large state-owned equipment enterprises, are also in the beach driverless.
China Central Car was involved in this early, in May 2017 produced 240 tons of mining dump trucks, welcomed by the South American market, and received BHP Billiton Chile in 2019-2025 to purchase 90 of the mine car orders.
The industry believes this year could be called the commercial year of China’s driverless mining vehicles.
In addition to the driverless mines used by Pauli Coal, other mines have begun to experiment.
On October 10th Xugong Group said it had completed the assembly of the first batch of unmanned equipment for the demonstration project of the driverless transport system at its open-pit mine.
Northern also launched a driverless electric tanker called NTE120AT earlier this year, weighing 110 tonnes and commissioning in the first half of the year.
In addition to Huito intelligence, step-song zhihang, easy-to-control zhidriving, pioneers and other mining areas unmanned solution providers, have also started testing or operation this year.
In addition, China Heavy Automobile and Shaanxi Tongli Heavy Industries are also putting in the layout of driverless mines.
Large-scale operation remains a challenge
The best operators of driverless minecarts are Caterpillar of the United States and Komatsu of Japan.
In the 1990s, Caterpillar began researching minecars for unmanned operation, and in 2011 it went into commercial operation, with more than 200 operating units worldwide, while Komatsu’s driverless trucks went into commercial use in 2008.
During the 2nd China International Import Expo, Caterpillar booth staff told Interface News that Caterpillar’s focus is now on the unmanned entire mine.
‘It’s not easy,’ the source told the press. “Behind the unmanned mine is a significant amount of human support and operations in the background. The person said.
“Unmanned minecarts don’t drive from one point to another on their own. The key, the person said, is to rely on people and cars in terms of management.
According to Interface News, Caterpillar’s driverless minecarts were first mixed with a fleet of people-driven. After several years of mixed tests, it was found that unmanned ore cards can improve efficiency, save costs and reduce safety hazards, and then gradually replace human mine carts with unmanned mine carts.
Joe Forcash, caterpillar’s head of automation products, has said driverless mines can increase efficiency and reduce safety risks, but miners also have to accept the reality that unmanned minecarts are expensive.
In a time of low commodity prices, miners’ primary concerns are to improve their balance sheets and save money. For the input of unmanned minecarts, the general choice of commodity prices are good when.
Mining giants such as BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and FMG have been putting into use unmanned minecart systems a decade ago, but the numbers are still limited.
Unmanned minecarts like crickets run in the mining giants’ endless mines. Among them, fMG is the most powerful application, the current number of operations of more than 100.
Rio Tinto, the Anglo-Australian miner, believes driverless mines can reduce costs by about 15 per cent compared to manual driving. Currently, it uses 73 Komatsu’s driverless mines in four mines.
Compared with foreign countries, a domestic industry insider, who did not want to be named, said that China’s domestic research institutions, manufacturers and mine owners are now focusing on the manufacture of driverless mining vehicles, with less attention to the unmanned ness of the entire mine.
According to Chen Long, there are three main business models for domestic players: first, to do mine carts, to provide vehicle companies with unmanned original equipment; Huito intelligent implementation is the first and second model.
Chen Said, for domestic enterprises, the future large-scale operation of dozens of mine carts, will be a major challenge.
According to the experience of Caterpillar, the leap from several minecarts to hundreds of minecarts is not a technical challenge, but a challenge of human cooperation and management.
Caterpillar’s experience, the people said, is that the staff and the mine side, the design institute three long-term cooperation, on the production management docking, to provide them with operational solutions or training.
“The teams you see don’t tell what’s mine employees and what’s Caterpillar. But they’re a team that’s all providing back-office support. The person said.