Concept Design and Testing of a GPS-less System for Autonomous Shovel-Truck Spotting
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Haul truck drivers frequently have difficulties spotting beside shovels. This is typically a combination of reduced visibility and poor mining conditions. Based on first-hand data collected from the Goldstrike Open Pit, it was learned that, on average, 9% of all spotting actions required corrective movements to facilitate loading. This thesis investigates an automated solution to haul truck spotting that does not rely on the use of the satellite global positioning system (GPS), since GPS can perform unreliably. This thesis proposes that if spotting was automated, a significant decrease in cycle times could result. Using conventional algorithms and techniques from the field of mobile robotics, vehicle pose estimation and control algorithms were designed to enable autonomous shovel-truck spotting. The developed algorithms were verified by using both simulation and field testing with real hardware. Tests were performed in analog conditions on an automation-ready Kubota RTV 900 utility truck. When initiated from a representative pose, the RTV successfully spotted to the desired location (within 1 m) in 95% of the conducted trials. The results demonstrate that the proposed approach is a strong candidate for an auto-spot system.