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UK’s first autonomous ADT unveiled in Devon

The autonomous Bell B40E articulated dumptruck in action at Sibelco’ Cornwood Quarry, in Devon
The autonomous Bell B40E articulated dumptruck in action at Sibelco’s Cornwood Quarry, in Devon

Launch of new operationally efficient transport blueprint for the quarry and mining sector 

TODAY saw the official UK launch of an autonomous articulated dumptruck (ADT) designed to help futureproof the effectiveness and competitiveness of quarrying operations within the minerals and aggregates industry.

The development of autonomous driving capability opens the door to a range of operational efficiency, safety, environmental, and employee benefits to underpin the sector going forward.

The UK-first project was initially conceptualized by Chepstow Plant International (CPI) and Bell Equipment following long-term trials between Bell Equipment and technology platform specialists xtonomy.


CPI identified Sibelco, a long-term valued strategic customer, as the ideal partner to bring the project to reality in a live working quarry environment. Collectively, the four key stakeholders have collaborated to develop and launch an innovative quarry transportation proposition that has its eyes on the future.

The launch event for the venture was held at Sibelco’s china-clay Cornwood Quarry, in Devon, this morning with more than 50 key industry guests invited to witness a full demonstration of the new autonomous solution within a working quarry setting.

Interactive presentations highlighted innovative on-board hardware and software technologies, including robust radar sensors, high-precision GPS, multi-channel communication systems, and on-board processing hardware. They have been incorporated by xtonomy into a standard Bell B40E dumptruck to create an autonomous-ready, drive-by-wire B40E solution.

As a result, the combination offers true and safe autonomy with a resilient navigation system that dynamically plans ADT paths and predictively controls the vehicle around the entire quarry site.

Among the key objectives with this pilot scheme will be to demonstrate the potential to reduce vehicular incidents and subsequent accidents, as well as upskilling the existing workforce to further support the future of quarry operations.

Operational efficiencies will be enhanced as autonomous ADTs are able to operate for longer periods during the working day, deliver highly accurate tipping results, and ensure that the existing quarry shift patterns can be tailored to improve productivity. Further benefits will be available thanks to improved component life and reduced wear and tear on the Bell B40E dumptruck, leading to improved asset availability for the quarry.

The autonomous ADT delivers highly accurate tipping results
The autonomous ADT delivers highly accurate tipping results

Environmental advantages will also be leveraged through the AI-enabled transformation. With enhanced driving accuracy and efficiency across the quarry, less fuel will be consumed, helping to ensure reductions in carbon emissions. 

To further enhance the autonomous ADTs impact on the environment, the Bell B40E uses HVO instead of diesel. This pushes the machine to as near to ‘carbon neutral’ as currently possible within the quarry and mining sector.

John Corcoran, managing director of Chepstow Plant International, commented: ‘CPI are delighted to be involved in this exciting and UK-first collaboration; one that is focused on a next-generation adventure to ensure UK quarries continue to maximize operational efficiencies and remain competitive. It is important that stakeholders come together in this way to drive advancements and support the industry’s future prospects, whilst continually remaining committed to our safety standards and Net-Zero commitments.

‘We are sure that this pilot project will deliver both progress as well as further challenges, both of which will provide the pathway towards the ultimate goal.’

Ben Uphill, director of operations - Kingsteignton Cluster with quarry owners Sibelco, said: ‘We envisage many benefits from having access to this sector-first autonomous ADT solution. The minerals and aggregates sector must embrace technology as a way of continually delivering improvements across our daily operations and cost base.

‘At Sibelco, we strive for continuous improvement, with a focus on safety and the environment through energy efficiency and CO2 reduction. Automation is used in many parts of our operations and business to maximize efficiency and to also manage areas of skills shortage. This has been a fantastic example of collaborative ethos from all partners and has resulted in a safe and productive autonomous driving setup for a key part of our operations.’

Agg-Net and ‘Quarry Management’ joined more than 50 key industry leaders at the showcase launch event
Agg-Net and ‘Quarry Management’ joined more than 50 key industry leaders at the showcase launch event

Nic Grout, managing director at Bell Equipment UK, commented: ‘Bell Equipment is a leading supplier in the ADT market and as such is proud to be part of this exciting project. Its success can help transform the future of the quarrying sector and we are pleased that our evolutionary E-series and the B40E dumptruck sits at the heart of this innovative project. The ability to transform our market-leading vehicle through added technology functionality into a safe, robust, effective, and autonomous quarrying asset is welcome and sets the standard for future developments across our vehicle range.’ 

Dr Christian Riedel, chief executive officer of xtonomy, added: ‘Supporting the quarrying sector through the appliance of result-orientated automation platform solutions is a key commitment for the business. Expectations and needs are changing as the industry looks to transition to a future where improved efficiency, better safety, and targeted environmental considerations are key priorities. Our AI technology incorporated on to the already successful Bell B40E dumptruck evolves it to a next-generation payload transportation blueprint.’

  • Visitors to Hillhead 2024, which takes place at Hillhead Quarry, near Buxton, Derbyshire, from 25–27 June, will be able to see the autonomous Bell B40E ADT in action.


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