Komatsu implements LTE network to operate autonomous haul system

LTE Komatsu nokia

Komatsu America Corp’s FrontRunner Autonomous Haulage System has qualified to operate on private LTE (long-term evolution) mobile broadband technology.

The announcement makes Komatsu’s autonomous haulage system the first in the mining industry to run on private LTE in commercial operations. The LTE system opens the door to ultra-high system availability and reliability, while adhering to safety standards.

“This industry milestone represents a key step in Komatsu’s exploration of private LTE and highlights Nokia’s role as the leading global supplier of mission-critical solutions and services for the mining industry,” said Luiz Steinberg, Komatsu global officer and president and CEO of Modular Mining Systems.

“As the leader in autonomous haulage technology, 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.”

Future X LTE

Komatsu’s FrontRunner autonomous system allows unmanned operation of ultra-class mining trucks. FrontRunner delivers reduced worker exposure to harm, protocols designed to constantly improve mine-site safety, reduced operating costs, and increased productivity and efficiency.

The company completed a year-long qualification program at the company’s proving grounds in Tucson, Arizona, conducting testing of the FrontRunner system on Nokia’s Future X infrastructure, a provider of private LTE communication solutions for the mining industry.

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Mining operators require wireless networks with high-availability, seamless mobility, world class Quality of Service (QoS), and the ability to support multiple applications and services simultaneously. To achieve this, the industry is moving away from less predictable wireless technologies — like Wi-Fi — and towards private LTE networks, that improve security, capacity, and overall performance within a multi-application environment.

“We are excited to be engaging the mining automation market with Komatsu, a powerhouse in the industry, to further highlight the benefits of Future X for mining companies as a strategic advantage in their operations,” said Nokia Enterprise President Kathrin Buvac.

“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.”

Komatsu pioneered the first autonomous haulage system for the mining industry with a commercial deployment in 2008 at Codelco’s Gabriela Mistral copper mine in Chile.

Later that year, Komatsu completed its second successful deployment of the autonomous trucks at Rio Tinto’s iron ore mine in Australia.

Today, more than 130 of Komatsu’s autonomous trucks are in operation in the Chilean copper mine, the iron ore mine in Australia and in Alberta’s oil sands.