The mining industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation. Activity is driven by the need to enhance safety, productivity and control costs. Autopilot mine shuttles that are equipped with electronic control design, enhance safety and increase stability and intelligence. Several features including anti-collision, anti-slip and obstacle identification along with automatic driving, remote driving and manual driving functions enhance the safety at mines. This is just one of a substantial number of innovations in the mining sector, with over 48,000 patents filed and granted in the mining industry in the last three years, according to GlobalData’s report on Robotics in Mining: Autopilot Mine Shuttle. Buy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 350,000 patents to analyse innovation intensity for the mining industry, there are 150+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Autopilot mine shuttle is a key innovation area in robotics

Autonomous mining shuttles are driverless mine heavy vehicles that can sense the environment and navigate on the mine haul road surface without any human intervention. AMTs reduce the vulnerability to the risk of equipment contact with auxiliary equipment or equipped manual vehicles (EMV).

Major mining companies in Australia, Europe, and the Americas are transitioning to autonomous technologies as they strive for zero casualties. The mining industry began using artificial intelligence, machine learning, and autonomous technologies more than a decade ago with autonomous mining trucks (AMT) or autonomous haulage systems (AHS).  Autonomous solutions improve safety and overall productivity at mine sites. By reducing the number of people required around mining equipment, the technology automates haulage operations and reduces the risk of injuries at mine sites. AHS reduces the number of breaks and shift changes associated with the use of manned machines in mining operations, allowing for greater equipment availability. It also allows miners to cut down on fuel consumption and emissions.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies.  According to GlobalData, there are 10+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established mining companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of autopilot mine shuttle.

Key players in autopilot mine shuttle – a disruptive innovation in the mining industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to autopilot mine shuttles

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Sandvik 165 Unlock Company Profile
Komatsu 70 Unlock Company Profile
Epiroc 43 Unlock Company Profile
Atlas Copco 23 Unlock Company Profile
Caterpillar 18 Unlock Company Profile
Deere & Co 10 Unlock Company Profile
Newmont 10 Unlock Company Profile
Rio Tinto 7 Unlock Company Profile
Liebherr-International 5 Unlock Company Profile
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation 5 Unlock Company Profile
ThyssenKrupp 4 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Leaders in autopilot mine shuttle include Sandvik, whose AutoMine® load and haul automation system has new sensing capabilities and artificial intelligence (AI) for real-time reactions to their environment. By using obstacle detection, collision avoidance, and 3D online mapping, it enables vehicles to adapt and plan their own routes to find the appropriate paths in constantly changing environments.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the mining industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Mining.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article. 

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.