Wenco, Oxbotica to develop open autonomy for miners

  • June 16, 2020
  • imc

Hitachi mining subsdiary Wenco and Oxford University autonomous software spin-out Oxbotica are partnering to develop an Open Autonomy solution for mining. Initial trials are underway, and the companies are actively recruiting mining partners with appropriate testing grounds.

The planned system will allow mining companies to adopt best of breed in autonomous mining equipment.  It will allow them to operate any open standard-based vehicle and integrate it into their existing fleet. It should also help meet growing demand with the number of autonomous haulage trucks around the world, which are expected to grow by more than 300% by 2023, according to research firm GlobalData.

Wenco and Oxbotica both support an open and interoperable ecosystem of partners that integrate solutions alongside existing mine infrastructure. Both companies believe this provides customers with greater flexibility and control for integrating new solutions while reducing associated risks and costs.

The two comapnies argue that this approach avoids vendor lock-in, allowing miners to choose technologies independent of their primary industrial systems. Furthermore, it enables highly skilled autonomy suppliers that may be new to mining to integrate with customers’ existing operations while backed by a proven expert in the industry.

“We are very excited to be collaborating with Oxbotica,” said Andrew Pyne, Wenco President and CEO. “We are confident that combining Oxbotica’s proven capability in autonomy with our three decades worth of experience in interoperable fleet management systems for large mining customers enables us to create the industry’s first full-function Open Autonomy platform.”

“Regardless of the strategies of other industrial autonomy vendors, Wenco and Oxbotica believe firmly in the principle of open systems and consider it the primary way to bring about our joint goals of widespread adoption of autonomous technology and safer, more productive industrial operations. Our joint platform will allow customers to choose any open standards-based vehicle and integrate it into their existing operations,” said Pyne.

“This collaboration with Wenco is a major milestone for Oxbotica,” says Ozgur Tohumcu, CEO of Oxbotica. “Wenco’s industry experience in mining and their vision for Open Autonomy make this partnership extremely valuable for us and provides a great synergy with our own vision of Universal Autonomy – where any vehicle, in any environment, can understand where it is, what’s around it and what it should do next.”

“The mining industry has proven to be at the forefront of deploying early generation autonomy systems because the business case has been clear for operators. However, even years after early deployments, less than two per cent of vehicles are autonomous in mines around the world. We strongly believe an Open Autonomy architecture that enables new and innovative entrants, like Oxbotica, to join and speed up autonomy adoption will be beneficial for the whole industry. Together with Wenco, we would like to accelerate the adoption of autonomy in mining, making it much easier for mine operators to deploy autonomous technologies and enjoy the benefits,” said Tohumcu.