Australia’s first autonomous TBM launched6 September 2023
Australia’s first autonomous TBM has been launched on Sydney Metro West.
TBM Betty is the third of six TBMs now in the ground for the project. The Herrenknecht TBM, named after Australian Olympian Betty Cuthbert, will build the section of tunnel between Sydney Olympic Park and Westmead, via the Clyde Stabling Maintenance Facility and Parramatta Metro Station.
It is equipped with sophisticated artificial intelligence software that automatically steers, operates and monitors the machine. While an operator remains in control of the TBM, the autonomous algorithm takes on the machine’s repetitive tasks, increasing speed and improving accuracy.
TBM Betty is 170m long and will tunnel approximately 180m a week to dig the 4.5km to Sydney Olympic Park to complete the first leg of its journey.
In the coming months, the Gamuda Australia and Laing O’Rourke Consortium, which has the contract for the Western Tunnelling works, will launch another TBM at Clyde to excavate the second metro tunnel alongside Betty. Once the TBMs arrive at Sydney Olympic Park, they will be retrieved and returned to Clyde, where they will be relaunched in the opposite direction towards Westmead.
At the Clyde TBM launch site, approximately 138,000 tonnes of material has been removed from the 130m-long, 20m wide and 28m-deep box to prepare for TBM Betty’s launch.
In June, the Acciona Ferrovial joint venture, which has the Central Tunnelling package, launched the first two TBMs on Sydney Metro West. The two double-shield, hard rock machines include refurbished cutterheads, front shields and gripper shields cutterheads from the TBMs used on the Sydney Metro City & Southwest project.
Sydney Metro West will double rail capacity between Sydney’s two biggest CBDs once passenger services commence in 2030.