A mining truck carrying iron ore moves carefully in the Bayan Obo mining area, northern China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. It can accelerate, avoid obstacles and dump materials in specific areas without a driver inside.
Measuring 6.8 meters tall, the 5G network-based autonomous mining truck has a payload capacity of 170 tonnes. It was developed by the Baogang Group, Inner Mongolia branch of China Mobile and Beijing-based Tage Idriver, a service provider in autonomous driving for open-pit mines.
A total of four such unmanned mining trucks have been put into use in the Bayan Obo mining area, known as China's "rare earth capital." The proved rare earth reserve in the area reached around 100 million tonnes, accounting for around 83 percent of the country's total and 38 percent of the world.
Equipped with technologies such as laser radar, millimeter-wave radar and 5G-V2X wireless communication, the truck has various functions including remote control, precise parking and obstacle avoidance. The new trucks can improve the efficiency of mining cars under special circumstances and reduce operational risks.
The 5G base station equipment deployed by China Mobile and Chinese tech giant Huawei in the mining area provides faster, safer and more reliable information exchange for the trucks, thus enabling efficient monitoring, dispatching and management of mining vehicles, according to Zhang Yanghai, a staff member from the Inner Mongolia branch of China Mobile.
Compared with traditional mining trucks that use human drivers, autonomous vehicles are more efficient and cheaper to maintain. The Bayan Obo mining area plans to purchase more unmanned mining trucks and transform existing traditional vehicles, making over 65 percent of its mining cars autonomous in the future.
Sun Guolong, general manager of Baogang Group, said the application of 5G mobile communication and artificial intelligence (AI) is of great significance to the construction of the company's smart mines. The group will make full use of the internet, robots, AI and other new technical means to realize intelligent mining.