Autonomous train trial on schedule

Rio Tinto says it has received regulatory approval by the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator for its Pilbara rail network. A key step in its bid to haul ore from pit to port completely autonomously by the end of this year.

Rio Tinto said that more than 65 percent of kilometres travelled on its WA rail network have been completed autonomously and that it would gradually stage the rollout of driverless trains to fully cover its 1700 kilometres of rail in Western Australia.

Human drivers have been on board to keep an eye and intervene in case of emergencies.

Rio Tinto said in financial filings that the budget for the Autohaul autonomous rail project had climbed to more than $1 billion.

It is the first of its kind in Australia and one of a handful of pilot projects worldwide. It is expected that the world’s train network will become 70% autonomous by 2030.