Demand and policies speed up landing of Autonomous Driving in Mining

Traditional mines have problems in recruitment, efficiency, costs, and potential safety hazards, while which can be solved by autonomous driving well. At the same time, mining areas features closed environment, fixed lines, low speed, and point-to-point, marking one of the best scenarios for autonomous driving.

As early as the 1990s, smart mining emerged abroad. Australia is currently the most mature in this aspect. As of February 2020, nearly 80% of approximately 500 autonomous trucks in the world had been in Australia. China has successively introduced policies to promote the development of smart mining, especially the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and other 7 ministries and commissions issued Guidance on Speeding up the Development of Intelligent Coal Mines in 2020 to clearly require that open-pit coal mines should realize unmanned transport by 2025. Driven by relevant policies, autonomous driving will accelerate its implementation in mining.

Science and Technology Enterprises Lead the Development of China’s Autonomous Driving in Mining

As the most important part of smart mining, low-speed autonomous driving has now entered the stage of commercial operation on a global scale.

As early as 1994, Caterpillar tested autonomous minecarts in mines in the United States, and Japan-based Komatsu also began testing autonomous transportation system in 2005.

As of April 2020, Komatsu had deployed a total of 221 AHS-equipped vehicles in Australia, North America, and South America, and had fulfilled the automated transportation of more than 3.5 billion tons of materials in 12 years.

Caterpillar has 276 autonomous trucks in operation worldwide, and has transported 2 billion tons of materials with the MineStar System.

Although the domestic mining began to develop autonomous driving relatively late with few players, more than 100 autonomous minecarts have been put into operation as per the disclosed information.

In China, local enterprises mainly dominate autonomous driving in mining, including start-up companies and some OEMs. Among them, startups represented by WAYTOUS, Tage IDriver Technology and EQ are more influential. On the one hand, they cooperate with OEMs to lay out the OEM market, reduce modification costs, and obtain scale advantages in future mass production; on the other hand, they can quickly implement and iterate software and hardware by cooperating with mining enterprises in deploying the AM market.

Capital Favors Low-speed Autonomous Driving Market for Mining
At present, the capital market is also very optimistic about low-speed autonomous driving in mining. Most enterprises have completed multiple rounds of financing. Among them, Tage IDriver Technology has fulfilled the B+ round with relatively high total financing amount, while CiDi (Changsha Intelligent Driving Institute) Ltd. has raised more than the highest RMB400 million.

Driven by user demand, policies and capital, the development of autonomous driving in mining is accelerating, and a market worth hundreds of billions of yuan will be formed in the next few years hereby.