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NSW to gain two autonomous tunnelling machines for Sydney Metro West project


Autonomous tunnel boring machines (TBM) will be used to help build two nine-kilometre rail tunnels as part of the 24-kilometre Sydney Metro West project, the New South Wales government announced on Wednesday. The autonomous machines are being built as part of an AU$2.16 billion Western Tunnelling Package that was awarded to the Gamuda Australia and Laing O'Rourke consortium, which has contracted manufacturer Herrenknecht to design, build, and deliver the machines. According to the state government, the machines will feature artificial intelligence software, developed by Gamuda, that will be used to automatically steer, operate, and monitor various TBM functions. "While an operator remains in control, the autonomous system takes on all repetitive tasks from the operator with greater accuracy," Minister for Transport David Elliot said, claiming that the use of autonomous TBMs will be an Australian first. "The technology also allows the TBMs to be more accurate and precise, reducing the time required to excavate the nine-kilometre tunnels, therefore saving project costs."