BHP Billiton has ordered autonomous upgrade packages for 18 drill rigs for its iron ore mines in Western Australia from Sweden-based Atlas Copco.
The mining company has been trialling Atlas Copco's autonomous technology on Pit Viper 271 rigs at the Yandi mine for the past two years.
The machines have operated for more than 15,000 hours autonomously, having drilled around one million metres.
Following the successful trial, BHP Billiton has ordered upgrades for the rigs, in addition to couple machines that are already operating autonomously.
Initially, these rigs are planned to be used at BHP Billiton's five iron ore mines in Pilbara.
Atlas Copco Mining and Rock Excavation Technique business area president Johan Halling said: "We are committed to delivering the most innovative solutions that enhance customers' productivity, and our autonomous drill rigs are a fine example of that.
"We share a valuable partnership with BHP Billiton, and feel very proud to be able to provide the best solutions."
The Mining and Rock Excavation Technique business area provides equipment for drilling and rock excavation, and a complete range of related consumables.
Principal product development and manufacturing units of the business area are located in Sweden, the US, Canada, China and India.
Image: An Atlas Copco Pit Viper 271 rig. Photo: courtesy of Atlas Copco AB.