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Autonomous Trucks: How Do They Work?

BHP has been using autonomous haul trucks exclusively at its Jimblebar mine site since 2017 and is now considering expanding its autonomous haulage fleet to more sites across WA as part of ongoing efforts to deliver safer, smarter mining.

So how does an autonomous haul truck work?

Autonomous haul trucks use radar, light detection and special sensor technologies to detect objects, while using GPS and Wi-Fi to send and receive data and movement instructions.

Autonomous trucks know where they are travelling because they follow a virtual model of BHP’s mine site.

But for this to happen, it takes people on site and in control rooms to create these virtual models, program the trucks and make sure the right information is being used.

This includes Autonomous Maintenance Technicians and Communications Specialists who make sure that all the technical infrastructure onsite is working as it should be.

In an autonomous environment, this team of people are critical to a successful operation as technology is only as good as the people who run it.

Adam Baillie, an Autonomous System Builder at BHP’s Jimblebar mine, says working with the new technology is the best part of his job.

“Today’s mine site is very different from the one I started at,” Adam said.

“Today, we use drones to film mining to help with training and investigating problems. We have autonomous trucks ‘driving’ themselves around, and we have new jobs on site, like people who build virtual worlds for the trucks to drive in.”

As BHP’s technological transformation continues, the company is working with its employees and the community to prepare them for the roles of the future.

For more information on the types of jobs that are created with autonomous mining, visit

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