Fortescue deploys autonomous Ford Ranger at Chichester Hub

Fortescue Metals Group (Fortescue) has successfully deployed four autonomous Ford Ranger utes at the company’s mining operations in Chichester Hub.

With the assistance of Ford Australia, Fortescue has retrofitted a small fleet of Ford Rangers with an on-board vehicle automation system. This system will support the driverless equipment transfer service, improving efficiency and safety by enabling on-site personnel to focus on maintaining assets.

The system features an integrated Lidar and Radar system that “facilitates obstacle detection and dynamic obstacle avoidance, a comprehensive independent safety management and fail-safe braking system and extensive built-in monitoring and fault response capability,” writes Fortescue.

Developed by Fortescue’s Technology and Autonomy team, the autonomous vehicles “remove the need for fitters to make around 12,000 28-kilometre round trips annually to collect equipment and parts”, improving the efficiency of the Christmas Creek mobile maintenance team.

Fortescue Chief Executive Office Elizabeth Gaines said, “Since the outset, Fortescue has been at the forefront of innovation in the mining industry, underpinned by our value of generating ideas. It is this focus on technology and innovation that has driven our industry leading operational performance and cost position.

“The autonomous light vehicle project is a significant advancement of our in-house automation capability, building on our leading autonomous haulage system (AHS) program which has already delivered significant productivity and efficiency improvements for the business.

“With the flexibility to introduce similar systems into other mobile assets, this project is fundamental to our future mobile equipment automation projects,” Ms Gaines added.

Ford Australia President and Chief Executive Officer Andrew Birkic said Ford was proud that the Ranger had been selected for Fortescue’s latest autonomous light vehicle project.

“Ford globally is at the forefront of research into autonomous vehicles and working with companies like Fortescue is critical to gaining an insight into specific user application.”

The successful deployment of the vehicles offers confidence for the implementation of similar technologies at additional Fortescue mining sites.

Source: Ford Australia | Fortescue deploys autonomous light vehicles at Chichester Hub

16 February 2021

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