Nokia trial sees Komatsu autonomous mining trucks approved to run on private LTE
Driverless trucks by equipment manufacturer Komatsu are the first in the mining industry to be passed to run on a private LTE network in commercial operations.
Komatsu’s ‘autonomous haulage system’ (AHS), which governs unmanned operation of its ultra-class FrontRunner mining trucks, passed qualification after a year-long trial with Finnish telecom vendor Nokia at the company’s proving grounds in Tucson, Arizona. The certification will help Nokia in its pursuit of direct sales of network gear to the mining sector, as well as to other heavy industries.
A full truck fleet of the Japanese brand’s FrontRunner trucks can be monitored by single controller located up to thousands of kilometres away. Each truck carries a combination of vehicle controllers, precision GPS, radar and laser detection systems, and wireless networking functions.
The truck’s vehicle control system incorporates a detailed map of the mine area, including haul roads, loading areas, dump areas, and refuelling and maintenance areas. The trucks can operate around-the-clock, and deliver safety, productivity, reliability, performance and operational benefits to mine fleet owners, according to Komatsu.
They require ultra-high network availability and reliability. As an industry, the mining sector is moving away from less predictable wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi, and towards private LTE networks, said Nokia. Private LTE affords higher availability and quality, and ability to support multiple applications simultaneously.
Luiz Steinberg, president of modular mining systems at Komatsu, said: “We are firmly on our way to helping the industry move the next billion tons of material with autonomous technology. We have come together with Nokia to further this vision of delivering increased value to the mining industry.”
Nokia is proving the private LTE gear via its new Future X division. Nokia has cited manufacturing, logistics, transportation and energy, as key customer verticals for its own direct sales focus, which sidestep the traditional operators of public LTE networks.
Kathrin Buvac, president of Nokia Enterprise, commented: “Private LTE is a key element in the Nokia Bell Labs Future X architecture to help industries such as mining create an intelligent, dynamic, high-performance network that increases the safety, productivity and efficiency of their business.”