As the above video from Australian animation company Toucan Creative explains, these robot dump trucks have hauled ore in Western Australia since December 2008. Last April, the dump trucks collectively hit a major milestone: 100 million metric tons moved, including work at three different mines.
Although 15 of the dump trucks work in Australia's iron-rich Pilbara region, they are controlled from a Rio Tinto headquarters in Perth, Australia—930 miles away. Key to the trucks' success is their ability to operate 24 hours a day. (Turns out humans, who need to sleep and use the bathroom and stuff, are really inefficient.)
The dump trucks, which communicate wirelessly, navigate using a very precise GPS and can autonomously detect obstacles. They can avoid other vehicles or follow behind them, and are linked to a computer in charge of supervising their actions. Robots overseeing robots!
This is the type of job that is ideal for robots to take over from humans: the work is tedious, exhausting, and dangerous.
The next step? Rio Tinto is currently testing autonomous drills.