Australia’s first autonomous tunnel boring machines (TBM) will be used to build twin nine-kilometre rail tunnels between Sydney Olympic Park and Westmead, as part of the Sydney Metro West project.
This work is part of the $2.16 billion Western Tunnelling Package awarded in February to the Gamuda Australia and Laing O’Rourke Consortium, which contracted manufacturer Herrenknecht to design, build and deliver the machines.
The machines will use innovative artificial intelligence software, developed by Gamuda, to automatically steer, operate and monitor a number of TBM functions. The technology also allows the TBMs to be more accurate and precise.
The autonomous machines will join a fleet of TBMs that will build 24-kilometre tunnels from the Sydney CBD to Parramatta with two TBMs scheduled to start tunnelling from The Bays to Sydney Olympic Park at the end of this year.
The 24-kilometre new underground rail connection between the CBDs of Parramatta and Sydney will double rail capacity between the two CBDs, connecting the stations at Westmead, Parramatta, Sydney Olympic Park, North Strathfield, Burwood North, Five Dock, The Bays, Pyrmont and Hunter Street in the Sydney CBD.
Each autonomous machine is 1,266 tonne, 165 metres long, and designed to excavate through sandstone and shale. They will tunnel an average of 200 metres per week with a team of 15 workers per shift.
The two autonomous tunnel boring machines are expected to be in the ground by the end of 2023 to deliver the metro rail tunnels from Sydney Olympic Park to Westmead.
Construction started on Sydney Metro West in 2020. The project is expected to create about 10,000 direct and 70,000 indirect jobs during construction. The project is on track to be completed in 2030.
For more information on the Sydney Metro West, click here.