Western Australia, Pilbara region, seat of the Rio Tinto mining company. The other day its CEO Chris Silesbury announced the start of construction of "mines of the future", between which autonomous freight trains will run. The first such drone on the rails just made its initial journey the day before.
Automation of everything and everything in the extraction and transportation of minerals will give such great competitive advantages that in Rio Tinto they run ahead of the rest without fear and doubt. Already in the first days of 2017, the company switched 50% of all its trains to automatic operation, however, leaving the drivers in the cabins for safety reasons. And now the long-awaited moment - a fully autonomous freight train independently covered a route of 100 km.
Behind the words about innovation and advanced technologies lies a prosaic fact: the commissioning of unmanned trains gives the company the opportunity to reshuffle personnel. Transfer routine work to robots, and transfer people to more responsible positions, where they can master new types and methods of activity. Not to dismiss the well-deserved personnel, but to provide them with alternative ways of employment, without provoking social and political conflicts.
Rio Tinto's plans are ambitious - by the end of 2018, the company plans to completely transfer all its railways to autonomous mode. To do this, you need to get approval from the Australian authorities - after all, these robotic trains will travel on public roads.