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Topcon GPS technology contributes to Komatsu unmanned dump truck system

Commercial operation of the new Autonomous Haulage System (AHS) developed by Komatsu Ltd., one of the world’s largest construction equipment manufacturers headquartered are in Minato-ku, Tokyo, was commenced in July this year at an open-pit mine located in northwestern Australia.

At this site, the plan is to deploy more than 150 autonomous Komatsu dump trucks by 2015. For this first-of-its-kind autonomous dump truck operation, Topcon GPS receiver technology is being used to precisely navigate the unmanned trucks.

Corresponding to the growing demands for natural resources by emerging countries like China, mining sites are expanding in remote places with severe environmental conditions, and where the site owners typically encounter difficulty in hiring truck operators despite higher salaries being offered.

In some existing mines, there are large numbers of manned dump trucks at work, all requiring a high level of driving skills for operators to avoid accidents.

Komatsu’s AHS utilizes GPS technology to locate the exact position of the unmanned trucks and control them on predetermined courses. The technology also enables extended operating time and contributes to efficiency by decreasing manpower, and by ensuring stable speed control it helps reduce equipment wear and fuel consumption.

The system eliminates human driving errors, creating a safer work site, and helps improves environmental impact as carbon dioxide emissions should be decreased relative to the amount of material hauled.

The system, according to Satoshi Hirano, Managing Executive Officer of Topcon Corporation, “brings a huge revolution in the industry of large scale open-pit mine development.”

While there are several cutting-edge technologies including high precision GPS navigation system, milliwave radar, and optic-fiber gyro to potentially accomplish the unmanned dump truck system, Topcon is the only Japanese manufacturer of high precision GPS receivers. “We are proud to provide our GPS technology, one of core competencies, to Komatsu and will continue to support their efforts to improve the safe and efficient operation of autonomous dump trucks,” said Hirano.

komatsu_dump truck system
Komatsu Autonomous Haulage System (AHS) is in its operation