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Canada Transportation AI Technology

Autonomous Dump Trucks Are Coming To Canada's Oil Sands 165

Daniel_Stuckey writes "According to a Bloomberg report, Canadian oil sands giant Suncor, which is "Canada's largest energy company by market value," is currently testing haul trucks that are run by computers. Extracting bitumen from sands requires first digging up an enormous amount of the sand itself, with about two tons of sands required to produce one barrel of oil. Digging up all of that sand is the job of huge excavators, which then offload into gigantic haul trucks that transport sands to extraction plants. Time is money, and in this case being faster means carrying as much sand as possible. Haul trucks can carry hundreds of tons at a time, and are in constant motion, moving back and forth between excavator and extraction plant."
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Autonomous Dump Trucks Are Coming To Canada's Oil Sands

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  • Re:Oil Sands (Score:2, Informative)

    by Ralph Wiggam ( 22354 ) on Friday November 01, 2013 @06:19PM (#45306017) Homepage

    US oil production has consistently increased throughout Obama's presidency, after decreasing throughout Bush's presidency.

    There's nothing "desperate" about our energy situation. Gasoline is $3.20/gallon- a lot cheaper than in Canada.

    It's convenient for us to buy Canadian oil because of the easy transport. If you don't want our money, many other countries will be happy to take it.

  • by Harlequin80 ( 1671040 ) on Friday November 01, 2013 @06:26PM (#45306095)

    Rio Tinto has used autonomous trucks on some of its Iron Ore mines in the Pilbara region (north west Australia) for a number of years now (trials began in 2008). They also use it in conjunction with driver-less trains to haul the ore to the ports. In about April this year they announced that the driveless trucks had shifted 100 million tonnes of ore#1.

    For those who think it will obsolete humans, I believe they are dead wrong. It will obsolete some skill sets, but not people. It creates other jobs and frees up labour resources for other uses. It is no different to the Scythe. Prior to its invention there was a much higher demand for labour to harvest fields, the scythe allowed the finite resource that is labour to be used somewhere else. If you believe self driving trucks will make people obsolete, what you are actually saying is that driving trucks is all that person is capable of. If that is the case I obviously have a much higher opinion of people than you do.

    1 - http://www.miningaustralia.com.au/news/rio-s-driverless-trucks-move-100-million-tonnes [miningaustralia.com.au]

  • by ozmanjusri ( 601766 ) <aussie_bob@[ ]mail.com ['hot' in gap]> on Friday November 01, 2013 @06:54PM (#45306391) Journal

    I'm looking forward to the remake of "Christine" with a truck the size of a house in the title role.

    You can get that even with human operators.

    I worked on a mine that was being established in a very flat and remote part of Australia - not saying where, to protect the guilty. We had a number of Caterpillar 793s (dump trucks with about 2,600hp engines and 350 tonne loaded weight), including two set up as water carts with sprayers and water cannon for consolidating haul roads and dust suppression. Wile we were in construction phase, they were being used for siteworks, and to build the runway we'd eventually fly in and out of.

    One night at about 1am, I had to go out to a water bore pump close to the partly-built airstrip, and saw the two 350 tonne water trucks well away from the runway, bouncing through the bush with their water cannons firing full-power pulses into the scrub. I stopped them and started asking some very pointed questions.

    It turned out they'd seen a rabbit hop across the runway, and being very bored, had decided to try to shoot it with their water cannons. It then became competitive, and they ended up in a sort of tag match with the confused and very damp rabbit....

  • by Harlequin80 ( 1671040 ) on Friday November 01, 2013 @06:54PM (#45306395)

    Sorry, but no. I directly service the resources industry and there are way to many startup companies hitting easy to access reserves to say we are about to run out. No it's not the same as it was with pressurised reservoirs at shallow depths but this is exactly the same argument that was used to say that certain areas were mined out 100 years ago. Many of the precious metals mines that operate today operate where previous people thought they had got everything. Simply put they hadn't even come close.

    We are much better at sucking stuff out of the ground than we used to be. We can do it faster, cheaper and easier than ever before. Yes all the truly basic reserves were tapped but the efficiency of old extraction practices were so low that people are now going back to old reserves and extracting far more than the original operator did before they declared them exhausted.

    Lots of people much much smarter than I have identified proven and probably reserves that will keep the world going for a long time yet.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 01, 2013 @07:10PM (#45306577)

    two tons of sand have to be hauled away to the processing center just to get a single barrel of oil.

    2 Tons of oil soaked sand is not that much sand and would fit in the back of my pickup truck.
    2 tons of DRY sand is about 1.5 cubic feet. A 3ft x 3ft x 3ft block sand...smaller if it is soaked in oil.

  • Re:Oil Sands (Score:4, Informative)

    by dk20 ( 914954 ) on Friday November 01, 2013 @10:29PM (#45308231)
    The reason for the price difference between the US and Canada is due to taxes.

    This sums things up nicely: http://retail.petro-canada.ca/en/fuelsavings/2139.aspx [petro-canada.ca]

    Take your $3.20 a gallon price and tax it to the level Canada does and see what you would pay.
    I remember filling my car in NJ in the low $2's /gallon and FULL SERVICE only a few years ago

"I shall expect a chemical cure for psychopathic behavior by 10 A.M. tomorrow, or I'll have your guts for spaghetti." -- a comic panel by Cotham