Some of the largest mine companies in the world are turning to autonomous vehicle technologies to deal with commodity price declines and worker safety concerns, saving money and improving operations safety, productivity and sustainability in the process. In fact, some operators have reported that driverless vehicles are helping increase productivity and truck uptimes by as much as 20%. Unmanned haulage systems can also make open-pit operations much safer, since the work that haul truck operators do can be dangerous and accidents can occur due to fatigue.
While robotic haul trucks are quickly becoming the backbone for some major mining operations, their autonomy systems require advanced computer processing, networking, vetronics control and sensor capabilities to support the collection and transmission of vehicle data from a range of devices and sensor inputs (LIDAR, radar, data link, actuation, etc.) over CANbus, Ethernet, serial, and more. Managing system cost, maintaining reliability, minimizing size and weight for electronics, and accommodating the incredible amount of processing and connectivity requirements for these solutions are some of the challenges faced by system integrators.
An experienced autonomous system supplier for both military and commercial vehicle platforms sought reliable COTS electronics hardware to upgrade their multi-platform autonomy kit in support of a mining truck program that was both cost-sensitive and schedule-constrained. The integrator wanted multiple, physically-separated processor systems designed for harsh vehicle conditions (shock, vibration, temperature, dust, water), some running Linux, others a real-time operating system (RTOS), and all integrating Ethernet, serial and CAN to communicate with the vehicle’s on-board network, automotive radar/LIDAR sensors, inertial navigation system (INS), actuation system, and more. In addition, the autonomy solution would require a robust network backbone to connect these processors together in an Ethernet network. All subsystems would need to be delivered within a matter of weeks and without Non Recurring Engineering (NRE) cost.
Download the case study to learn more about the Curtiss-Wright DuraCOR Mission Computers (including on DuraCOR 80-41 Intel Core i7 and DuraCOR 311 Intel Atom processors) and DuraNET 20-10 Gigabit Ethernet switch used to solve this challenge.