SYDNEY, July 13 (Xinhua) -- An autonomous train carrying 28,000 tonnes of iron ore has completed its maidan delivery in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, travelling over 280 kilometers from a mine in Tom Price to the Port of Cape Lambert.
Developed by mining giant Rio Tinto, the AutoHaul is controlled 1500 kilometers away at the company's Operations Centre in Perth.
The on-board computers and the computers at the Operations Centre take over and it makes its own decisions, principal engineer on the AutoHaul Lido Costa explained on Friday.
As the world's largest robot, the technology is expected to dramatically increase "safety and productivity."
According to Lido, a manual train will stop around three times on the journey from the mine to the port.
In total these breaks add up to around one hour of lost production.
Lido said, the time-saving benefit is enormous because the train network is a core part of the mining operation.
"If we can prevent those stoppages, we can keep the network ticking over, allowing more ore to be transported to the ports and shipped off more efficiently."
"The other major benefit is safety, we are removing the need to transport drivers 1.5 million kilometers each year to and from trains as they change their shift."
For Lido, this high-risk activity is something that driverless trains will be able to eliminate.
"The network of computers makes sure the train keeps to the speed limit, makes sure it doesn't run into other trains or other trains don't run into it, makes sure there's nothing obstructing the level crossings," he said.
"And there are a whole lot of other devices in place to protect people and equipment."
The world-first system is set to become fully operation before the end of the year.