From the extraction and transportation of materials to the control and monitoring of sites, robots are reimagining mining—and proving to be an excellent investment.
FREMONT, CA: Mining can be a filthy, hazardous, and complex industry. Humans face significant demands when extracting raw materials from the earth—lives are put at risk daily. However, times are changing.
On-site intelligent machines have arrived. They enhance human capabilities above and below ground and take on the most dangerous tasks, which operators can now control remotely—and the impact is significant.
The following video shows several robots in action and how they are transforming the face of mining today.
Autonomous haulage trucks
Autonomous Haulage System (AHS) is equipped with high-precision GPS, radar, and laser sensors. They can autonomously navigate haul roads, people, and other vehicles—with the assistance of a control room operator. They can also notify staff and perform diagnostics if something goes wrong.
These autonomous trucks have several significant advantages:
In comparison to human operators, they do not require lunch breaks or shift changes, which increases efficiency. Additionally, because they are predictable, wear and tear is minimised, as is downtime. Additionally, numerous injuries and accidents are avoided when fewer humans work on hazardous sites.
Unmanned aerial vehicles
Mines worldwide are utilising unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, to collect data about their sites. UAVs are used to verify clearance before explosions, monitor traffic, road conditions, and hazards, and provide real-time aerial footage and three-dimensional maps.
For decades, mines have relied on locomotive power to transport material in and out of their operations. While semi-autonomous trains have been operating for several years, this new generation of driverless locomotives is equipped with sophisticated onboard computer systems connected to 4G networks. This enables them to work independently of other trains, track signals, schedule with other trains, and automatically unload and upload freight. Additionally, these driverless locomotives improve mine rail safety through various detection systems that act predictably at crossings, adhere to speed limits, and issue obstacle alerts.
Robotic rock-drilling rigs
The drills can move and dig autonomously, monitored from a remote off-site location, using GPS, obstacle detection, and advanced auto drilling. Additionally, they can provide feedback on ground conditions.
Robots will not only work alongside humans in the mines of the future; they will run them, delivering the raw materials we require in ever-difficult conditions and ways far beyond human capabilities.