Hitachi advances development of autonomous ultra-large excavators

The EX3600-7 excavator. Image: Hitachi Construction Machinery

Hitachi Construction Machinery will roll out verification tests to develop autonomous ultra-large hydraulic excavators in Australia next year.

The remote excavators are set to improve mine site safety and productivity by improving the working environment and preventing operators from entering dangerous areas.

They will feature operator supports systems, which include a collision avoidance system, vehicle stability monitoring systems, and integrated with dump truck autonomous haulage system (AHS) to enhance the machine’s safety measures.

Part of the excavation and loading operations will use automation to allow multiple ultra-large hydraulic excavators to be operated by a single operator following the initial development.

“The incremental development will eventually (realise) the ultra-large hydraulic excavators with autonomous operation features,” Hitachi stated.

The company’s EX-7 series of ultra-large hydraulic excavators will have the ability to be retrofitted with the remote control system, driving support system for manned and autonomous operation features.

Hitachi will deploy the autonomous operation for ultra-large hydraulic excavators as a standalone system or as a fleet management system (FMS), which includes the Fleet Control from Hitachi subsidiary, Wenco International Mining System.

Hitachi previously used a remote-controlled unmanned excavator in the reconstruction work at Mount Unzen Fugen-dake volcanic eruption in Japan in 1992.

Six Hitachi’s rigid dump trucks have been deployed for 24-hour autonomous hauling at Whitehaven Coal’s Maules Creek mine in New South Wales.