Komatsu is partnering with Toyota to develop an autonomous light vehicle (ALV) based on the Toyota Tacoma truck, controlled by Komatsu’s Autonomous Haulage System (AHS).
Komatsu’s AHS has been used commercially since 2008 to both operate and manage fleets of self-driving mining trucks with capacities between 200 and 400 tons. As of May 2023, the company has deployed over 650 trucks at 22 sites in five countries.
Currently, when AHS-enabled autonomous haul trucks and manual light vehicles are running on haulage roads simultaneously, autonomous haul trucks may decrease their speed or stop when passing light vehicles to avoid possible collisions caused by human error. Komatsu says this has reduced the haul trucks’ efficiency and productivity.
To prioritize safety and productivity, Komatsu and Toyota are jointly developing new technologies to accelerate autonomy in mines. Komatsu will develop a new management program for ALVs on its AHS supervisory system, and Toyota will develop ALVs running automatically under AHS control.
A concept ALV is being tested at the companies’ proving grounds with plans to have a proof of concept at a customer site by January 2024.
“Autonomy offers the opportunity to remove people from harm’s way and enhance safety. It can allow our mining customers the ability to continue the hard work of providing critical minerals despite the ongoing challenge of labor shortages in the mining industry. It can also provide additional safety measures to mine sites on which multiple pieces of equipment are operated, in an effort to reduce accidents due to human error,” Komatsu said in the announcement.