BHP Billiton is developing a series of “pilot studies” that will test the efficacy of various collision avoidance technologies in its open-cut mines.
The miner said today it is working with the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) responsible for various technologies to set up the pilots.
Camera and radar-based object detection systems, proximity awareness systems and motion inhibitors are among the technologies presently targeted for trial.
However, the miner also foreshadowed experiments with automated braking assistance technology, which could occur during the current financial year.
“We will continue to investigate improvements in managing risks associated with mobile equipment and light vehicles in open-cut mining operations,” BHP Billiton said.
“In seeking to understand the potential for proximity and collision avoidance technology to improve vehicle safety, we are accelerating research, development and implementation of appropriate solutions”.
The pilots come after BHP, through its BHP-Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) venture, found a way to use UAVs to improve road safety at its Goonyella Riverside coal mine in Queensland.
The mine operators embarked on a project to reduce light vehicle rollovers and to avoid collisions between light and heavy vehicles, which had been sharing roads.
An average of 400 light and medium-weight vehicles enter the mine site every 24 hours. “Each of these has the potential to interact with 69 off-road mining trucks,” BHP Billiton said.
The miner started by separating the vehicle traffic. However it also found an innovative use for UAVs – which were already used at the site for surveying and photogrammetry.
“The UAVs provide timely and accurate data for monitoring road conditions and environmental hazards, while also reducing the need for people to go into those areas,” the miner said.