3INSAT, an ESA Business Applications funded project led by Ansaldo STS in Italy, recently helped to run the worlds first long-haul automated cargo train.
The fully-loaded autonomous train carried 28,000 tonnes of ore over 280 km between the Tom Price mine and the port of Cape Lambert in Western Australia, with Rio Tinto’s Operations Centre more than 1,500 km away in Perth mointoring the three locamotives used to drive the train, using satellite capabilities.
Each of the three locamotives was equipped with an onboard module relaying the trains position, speed and direction of travel back to the Rio Tinto Operations Centre via using satellite communication technology. Public areas and crossings were also fitted with cameras and monitors to allow continual monitoring of this historic journey.
Rio Tinto is using the 3INSAT inspired technology to automate much of the acitivty on the 1,700km jounrey between mines and ports in the Pilbara region. More than 200 locamotives use this route with an average journey of 800km taking 40hrs from loading to unloading.
This journey, as the world's first long-haul cargo train to be automated, signals the start of a new era of automated long-haul cargo train networks, which suit the remote areas of Western Australia.