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Press Release

Anne Watzman

For immediate release:
May 27, 2003

Carnegie Mellon to Demonstrate Autonomous Robot Exploring and Mapping an Abandoned Coal Mine

Carnegie Mellon University researchers, working with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, will present an unprecedented demonstration of a prototype autonomous mobile robot exploring and mapping a 3,500-foot corridor in an abandoned coal mine near West Elizabeth in southwestern Pennsylvania. The Groundhog robot, developed by students in the Robotics Institute's Mobile Robot Development course, will enter the abandoned Mathies Mine from the supply yard and travel to the site of a preparation plant more than a half-mile away. Groundhog's state-of-the-art, autonomous exploration and mapping software enables reliable and safe navigation despite ever-present mine hazards including, roof fall, abandoned equipment and ponded water.

Groundhog was developed in response to an incident at the Quecreek Mine near Somerset, Pa., last July, when miners accidentally breached the wall of an adjacent flooded mine that they thought was some distance away from where they were working.

Students did a demonstration of Groundhog last fall at an abandoned mine near Burgettstown, Pa. The robot, which was on a tether, traveled 150 feet into the flooded Florence Mine, which had been abandoned since 1920. This demo proved the feasibility of using the mapping technology to explore abandoned mines.

When: 9:45 a.m. May 30.

Where: Preparation plant, Mathies Mine, Pa. Route 837 South on the river side of the road. Make a left off Route 51 onto 837 South just before the Elizabeth Bridge. Anne Watzman, 412-268-3830, can supply more detailed directions.

Reporters should be prepared for muddy conditions and inclement weather.


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