Wenco International Mining Systems and UK autonomous vehicle software company Oxbotica have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to develop a world-first open autonomy solution for mining.
Initial trials are underway, and the companies are actively recruiting mining partners with appropriate testing grounds.
The system is designed to provide users flexibility and efficiency in autonomous mining deployment, allowing them to operate any open standard-based vehicle and integrate it into their existing fleet.
According to Oxbotica, it will help meet growing demand with the number of autonomous haulage trucks around the world expected to grow by more than 300% by 2023.
Wenco and Oxbotica said they both support an open and interoperable ecosystem of partners that integrate solutions alongside existing mine infrastructure.
Both companies said they believe this provides customers with the greatest flexibility and control for integrating new solutions while reducing associated risks and costs.
This approach is also said to avoid vendor lock-in and offers customers the freedom to choose preferred technologies, independent of their primary industrial systems.
Furthermore, it reportedly enables autonomy suppliers that may be new to mining to integrate with customers’ existing operations.
This latest advancement builds on the vision of Open Autonomy – first announced by Wenco and its parent company, Hitachi Construction Machinery, at the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum Convention in Montreal in May 2019.
Andrew Pyne, Wenco president and CEO, said: “Regardless of the strategies of other industrial autonomy vendors, Wenco and Oxbotica believe firmly in the principle of open systems and consider it the primary way to bring about our joint goals of widespread adoption of autonomous technology and safer, more productive industrial operations.”
Oxbotica was founded in 2014 out of the University of Oxford to develop an autonomy software platform that enables faster deployment of industry-specific autonomy applications.
Its mining solutions combine advanced robotics, AI and computer vision to change the way mining vehicle fleets operate.
“The mining industry has proven to be at the forefront of deploying early generation autonomy systems because the business case has been clear for operators,” said Ozgur Tohumcu, CEO of Oxbotica.
“However, even years after early deployments, less than 2% of vehicles are autonomous in mines around the world.
“We strongly believe an open autonomy architecture that enables new and innovative entrants to join and speed up autonomy adoption will be beneficial for the whole industry.”
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