Starting from January, ten road trains a month will be converted into fully autonomous vehicles, as part of a world-first project in WA’s Pilbara.

The world-first technology has been designed and developed by Mineral Resources (MinRes) and Hexagon for MinRes’ Onslow Iron project

MinRes has now handed over the first of its custom off-road triple road trains for conversion to autonomous operation, ahead of the initial roll out next month.

MinRes director of technology and innovation, David Geraghty, recently handed over a highly customised Kenworth C509 prime mover at Hexagon AB’s Perth workshop.

Hexagon AB will convert each road train using technology developed by the autonomy specialist’s engineering team. The vehicles are being tested with check drivers at MinRes sites in the Yilgarn region.

The conversion process is quite quick, with Hexagon aiming to complete the fit out of the technology on each truck within just two or three days.

Each triple road train will carry 330 tonnes of iron ore approximately 150 kilometres on a private, sealed haul road from the Ken’s Bore mine site to the Port of Ashburton.

Grade separation will be used to ensure there is no interaction between the road trains on the haul road and vehicles using public roads.

“This is a significant milestone for Onslow Iron, with autonomous trucks forming an essential part of the project’s supply chain,” Geraghty said.

“Automation brings many benefits, including enhancing road safety, increasing operational efficiencies and reducing emissions.”

Once conversions have all been completed at the end of 2024, MinRes will have a fleet of 120 fully autonomous road trains.