Technology firm Rail Vision, along with Rio Tinto Iron Ore, has commenced a long-term pilot programme for the AutoHaul project.

The project is claimed to be the first automated and long-distance heavy haul rail network across the globe.

Under the firm’s contract with Hitachi Rails STS, the Rail Vision Main Line System will be trialled in Pilbara Western Australia for three months.

The company also has the option to extend the programme for a further six months in different use-cases.

Hitachi will serve as the lead project technology partner as well as integrator.

The project includes the remote monitoring of 2.4km long-trains from an operations centre in Perth.

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These trains operate across a network of 1,700km of track for the delivery of iron ore from 16 mines to ports in Dampier and Cape Lambert.

After the first deployment in 2018, the trains already safely travelled over 4.5 million kilometres autonomously.

Rio Tinto plans to add a ‘forward-looking capability’ to its autonomous trains to identify hurdles on and along the tracks as part of the programme.

The miner along with Hitachi will assess different types of obstacles with the system to check its detection capability at various ranges during the test phase of the Rail Vision Main Line System pilot.

Rail Vision CEO and co-founder Shahar Hania said: “The long-term pilot is an extension of the AutoHaul® project, which is at the forefront of the future of autonomous train operations.

“Through advanced, long-range artificial intelligence detection systems, our technology provides unparalleled obstacle identification on and near tracks, making it a key enabling technology for autonomous trains and an ideal solution for the world-first AutoHaul project.”

Last year in May, Rail Vision struck an agreement with Hitachi Rail STS Australia to provide equipment, services, and workers to Rio Tinto Railway Network.