Posted by Big Gav in rise of the machines
The local mining industry often justifies the tax breaks and incentives it receives on the basis it employs people in the mines (they usually claim to be a major employer but there seems to be little truth to that, employing around 1% of the workforce). MIT Technology Review notes that increasing automation of mine sites, which is going to drive the "cashed up bogan" of the mining boom into extinction - Mining 24 Hours a Day with Robots.
Each of these trucks is the size of a small two-story house. None has a driver or anyone else on board.
Mining company Rio Tinto has 73 of these titans hauling iron ore 24 hours a day at four mines in Australia’s Mars-red northwest corner. At this one, known as West Angelas, the vehicles work alongside robotic rock drilling rigs. The company is also upgrading the locomotives that haul ore hundreds of miles to port—the upgrades will allow the trains to drive themselves, and be loaded and unloaded automatically.
Rio Tinto intends its automated operations in Australia to preview a more efficient future for all of its mines—one that will also reduce the need for human miners. The rising capabilities and falling costs of robotics technology are allowing mining and oil companies to reimagine the dirty, dangerous business of getting resources out of the ground.
BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining company, is also deploying driverless trucks and drills on iron ore mines in Australia. Suncor, Canada’s largest oil company, has begun testing driverless trucks on oil sands fields in Alberta.