Whittle Consulting-Pronto Case Study

Pronto and Whittle Consulting Unveil Landmark Study Showing Bigger No Longer Always Better When it Comes to Autonomous Trucks.

Haul trucks have generally gotten bigger over time, reflecting their better economics in most applications – the opposite is true when trucks are automated


SAN FRANCISCO and MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA, August 3, 2023 – Whittle Consulting, a global expert in integrated strategic planning for the mining industry, and Pronto, the Silicon Valley-based autonomy pioneer producing the world’s leading Autonomous Haulage System, today released their joint study, “Autonomous Swarm Haulage: The Economics of Autonomous Haulage with Small Trucks.” The study presents a groundbreaking analysis demonstrating that when mining haul trucks are automated, bigger is no longer always better. 

Whittle Consulting modeled the net present value (NPV) of mining a representative copper ore body through four different scenarios, taking into account all facets of the mining value chain over an 18-year life-of-mine (LOM) horizon.

Key findings include:

  • The modeled mine operating with a fleet of autonomous 40-ton haul trucks would realize a 31% greater NPV than if the mine were operated with a fleet of manually driven 100-ton off-road haul trucks 
  • Autonomy significantly improved effective utilization by reducing truck downtime, standby, and operating delays to 5% of availability versus 20% for manual vehicles
  • One theorized flaw in the small truck logic was the prospect of traffic congestion caused by the increase in the number of trucks operating in the mine, potentially overcoming the efficiency gains of small truck and automation. In the study’s simulations, such traffic congestion did not materialize

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The industry has long debated whether mining economics shift to favor smaller trucks when autonomous,” said Gerald Whittle, CEO, Whittle Consulting. “We’re excited to publish the first rigorous analysis that demonstrates that for most mines – the answer is yes.

The study also concluded that converting an existing fleet of haul trucks to autonomous operations increased NPV irrespective of truck size. Both conclusions are consistent with industry experience and past studies, including Whittle Consulting’s 2018 Autonomous Haulage Report

This study is exciting because it clearly articulates one of the many ways in which autonomy is revolutionizing the global economy today,” commented Anthony Levandowski, CEO of Pronto. “The results also illustrate why our strategy has been centered around making automation accessible to the majority of mines and quarries around the world that aren’t running the Ultra Class trucks that the legacy AHS providers have been focused on.”

Pronto had previously demonstrated the commercial benefits of an AHS capable of scaling down to the smallest trucks and smallest operations, and the Pronto-Whittle study substantiates that by identifying the specifics of why small trucks are favored when autonomous: lower maintenance costs, better fuel efficiency, faster haul speeds, narrower benches / steeper pit walls are possible, and better overall fleet utilization, among others.

Access your free copy of the Whittle Consulting + Pronto case study.

Watch WEBINAR - presented by Gerald Whittle, CEO of Whittle Consulting & Christian Kurasek, CFO of Pronto

About Pronto

Pronto is Autonomy Simplified. Founded by the Silicon Valley pioneers who have been at the forefront of the most important advances in autonomous vehicles and robotics for the last two decades, the Pronto(R) Autonomous Haulage System is designed to be the simplest, fastest to deploy, easiest to use, and most cost effective solution in the market. Learn more about Pronto at www.pronto.ai.

About Whittle Consulting

With over 35 years of experience, Whittle Consulting are the recognised experts in Integrated Strategic Planning for the mining industry. Combining the unique Whittle Consulting methodology and proprietary software, they are adept at improving mining economics, even after conventional mining optimisation techniques have already been applied. Through the conduct of over 180 Enterprise Optimisation studies, Whittle Consulting has repeatedly proven to enhance the economics of mining projects or operations from 5%-35%, and in many cases substantially more. A global operation, based in Australia, Whittle Consulting are recognised thought leaders in mining optimisation, and proudly contribute to ground-breaking analysis within and for the mining industry. Learn more about Whittle Consulting at www.whittleconsulting.com.au.


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