Partners for Mine Safety
Underground mining tasks can be dangerous for humans. So researchers at Carnegie Mellon University's world-renowned Robotics Institute (RI) are working hard to create innovative solutions.
Their impressive work has led to a partnership with one of the world's largest mining companies — London-based Anglo American PLC.
The RI, through its National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) and Field Robotics Center (FRC), will design, build and deploy mining robots, robotic tools and autonomous technologies in partnership with Anglo American's Technology Development Group.
Building upon its track record of successful mining automation projects, the RI will develop advanced perception, electromechanical and robotic systems for the company and partner with Anglo American engineers to put the NREC's and FRC's field-proven technologies to work in the company's mining operations.
"We are excited that Anglo American selected CMU as its partner for developing innovative mining robotics," said Tony Stentz, NREC director.
"This agreement will break new ground in mining technology," said Dimi Apostolopoulos, principal investigator and senior systems scientist at NREC. "We will work hard to get production robotics in place as soon as possible."
Automating the most difficult, costly and dangerous mining jobs will improve safety and increase the productivity and efficiency of Anglo American's operations. Advances in robotics will allow the mining of hard-to-reach ore deposits that cannot be economically extracted under existing methods and mine layouts.
The immediate applications include robotic mining machinery, mine mapping and automated inspections. Anglo American and the RI also will explore other applications under this master agreement.
"Working with top robotics experts is essential to our technology and innovation programs," said Donovan Waller, who leads automation and remote control technology development for Anglo American. "Our agreement with Carnegie Mellon University will allow us to rapidly deploy new systems in our platinum mines and develop technologies that will shape our future operations," Waller added.
Anglo American's master agreement with CMU is part of its strategic plan for advancing mining technologies. The company has worldwide operations, producing such commodities as iron ore, metallurgical coal, thermal coal, copper, nickel, platinum and diamonds.