Open Autonomy

Paul Newman, Founder, Oxbotica and Andrew Pyne, President & CEO, Wenco International Mining Systems joined Grayson Brulte on The Road to Autonomy Podcast to discuss their partnership and open autonomy.

The conversation begins with Paul discussing the founding of Oxbotica in 2014 and his thoughts on applying autonomy to the mining sector.

The economics made a ton of sense, it’s important, it’s doable technically, the business case is made and if I am honest, it’s an epically awesome industry.

– Paul Newman

In May 2019, Wenco and parent company Hitachi Construction Machinery became the first company to announce support for open autonomy. Wenco made this decision based on feedback from customers as they wanted to continue to use Hitachi excavators, and not be forced to switch to a new closed autonomous stack solution.

Customers really want to have choice and what we are enabling them to do is actually to have that choice. Whether that is to use the Hitachi excavator, the Wenco technology or even some of our competitor technologies.

– Andrew Pyne

The open autonomy approach is allowing Hitachi’s customers to save money and keep control of their operations. The partnership between Wenco and Oxbotica works because it is a relationship that is built on mutual trust and respect. It’s this trust that allows for a maximum amount of flexibility when applying autonomy to mining operations around the world.

It’s been and I am not making a false statement here, the most comfortable collaboration that I have been involved with in my time.

– Andrew Pyne

Paul feels the same way about the relationship. When there is mutual trust and respect between the partners, the customers win and that is exactly what is happening with Wenco and Oxbotica’s customers.

One of our leadership principles is to be a learn it all. It’s the antithesis of a know it all.

– Paul Newman

When open autonomy is applied to mining operations, operators can save millions in terms of the cost of labor which is roughly calculated at $1 million per haul truck. The high-cost of labor is one of the driving factors that is driving the adoption of autonomy in Western Australian mines.

To scale, Wenco and Oxbotica have created a Global Mining Group to define SAE Level 5 autonomy for any ISO 23725 open Drive-by-Wire standard. This standard benefits the industry as it creates an environment where other companies can enter the industry. Wenco views this as a positive as the company takes a long-term view approach to business.

If there is a standard by which you must have an interface to comply, it’s only ever a win. Only ever a win.

– Paul Newman

As the technology is deployed in mines around the world, Wenco is focused on high-value use cases that can scale. Autonomy is resonating with miners because they are innovative and looking for solutions that can allow them to grow their businesses.

Miners are innovative. They are very keen to try and look for new innovations because they are compromised.

– Andrew Pyne

Wrapping up the conversation, Paul and Andrew discuss how they see the relationship between Oxbotica and Wenco growing and evolving over the next decade.

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Recorded on Thursday, November 17, 2022