Effective Elimination of In-Situ Visual Inspection for AHS

November 25, 2020
Case Studies

The Challenge

It is not uncommon for autonomous haul trucks to come across an obstacle during their load-dump cycle. Our customers who operate AHS fleets state that on average, perception sensors on their haulers detect obstructions and stop the trucks on their route 6-7 times per day, per truck. These obstacles could be road rots, passing animals, or boulders. When one of these instances occurs, the current procedure is to dispatch a light vehicle to complete an in-situ inspection to identify the obstacle and identify the next steps (i.e. safe to resume or to dispatch a dozer or grader).


Dispatching a light vehicle takes several minutes, which will not only halt that particular haul truck, it will lead to a queue of other haul trucks blocked by the first haul truck. This process results in two important negative consequences:   

  1. Depending on the operation and the particular haul road, the trucks may be as close as 90 seconds apart, so an 8-minute response time will block five other trucks and downtime of 1.5 hours per day per truck.
  2. During this time, all blocked haul trucks are idling (a total of 6 in this example), leading to a substantial increase in GHG and diesel consumption.

A new approach was required to eliminate unnecessary production downtime and wasted revenue. Regular cameras would not maintain the necessary clarity in these harsh and dirty environments to replace an in-situ inspection. 

The solution needed to be rugged enough to handle a mining environment including the potential for being hit by debris, work in extremely cold temperatures (-40 degrees C), not require any regular maintenance, and most importantly, provide consistent and reliable image clarity whether the haul roads were dusty, muddy or being hit by heavy snow.

Our Solution

To meet these criteria, our customers turned to ToughEye™. ToughEye™ provides industry-leading, maintenance-free, self-cleaning operation, suitable for any industrial application where a clear view is critical, regardless of the external conditions. 

ToughEye™ incorporates a field-proven rugged single-piece design, equipped with our innovative ClearSight™ technology that self-cleans against abrasive dust, mud, oil & grease and water without requiring fluid top-ups, air compressors or any upkeep for the life of the camera

Our customers installed two ToughEye™’s per autonomous truck; one on the front and one on the rear allowing remote operators localized views of the truck’s direction of travel. The ToughEye's were connected to a Mobile Video Recorder (NVR) that allowed the remote operators to wirelessly obtain still images as well as video of the area around the truck. 

ExcelSense staff trained and provided the resources necessary to the customer to properly install, configure, and operate the ToughEye™ in less than a day. 

The Results

Following the system’s deployment, the mine concluded that an average of $1.2M per truck per year could be saved once the technology is rolled out. Additionally, the remote operators identified the following added values:

  • The wireless vision system was used to monitor the haul road conditions remotely, without the need to dispatch personnel, especially in heavy snowstorms. 
  • The wireless vision system was used to identify instances of truck slippage on the road and allowed the operators to make corrective adjustments to eliminate further slippage.

"The quality and clarity are unlike any other system i had seen on haul trucks" - Autonomous Technology Site Manager

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