Mining Robots

Topics Covered

Introduction to Mining Robots
Robotic Systems in Mines
Mining Robots – Products in Market
Robotic Conveyor Contaminant Removal System from Machinery Automation and Robotics (MAR)
ZeroG from Equipois
AutoMine System from Sandvik

Introduction to Mining Robots

The advancement of robotics and the large-scale use of robots have increased the need for computer simulation of robots.

Researchers are also designing new robots, conducting task planning of existing robots, cycle time estimation and performance evaluation. In the mining scenario, both underground and opencast mining require application of robotics. Robots can do jobs such as laying explosives, moving underground after mining to stabilize a mine roof or mining in places where it is not possible for humans to work or even to survive.

Examples of robots used in mining operations include:

  • Automated load-haul-dump trucks.
  • Automated loading and unloading robots.
  • Robotics devices for drilling and bolting mine roofs so that they are stabilized after

Robotic Systems in Mines

Robotic technology is in high demand in underground mines for the following applications:

  • underground mine navigation or mapping using robotics
  • machinery automation
  • position estimation
  • mine specific Issues.

The Groundhog robot developed by graduate students in Carnegie Mellon’s mobile robot development class in 2010 includes a cart that is provided with four two-dimensional laser range finders. These provide data about the cross section of the mine ahead of the vehicle and also the ceiling and ground structure. The robot is provided with two 2D laser range finders, one forward-facing for 2D mapping and the other facing the ceiling for 3D mapping. It will be more beneficial if the robots are provided with inertial sensors or odometers to determine vehicle location relative to their entry.

In 2006, the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) Newmont Mining Corporation and the BobCat company, an Ingersoll Rand business, developed a novel human-robot control architecture for surface mining operations in which synchronous movement of a number of machine links is required. The main concept behind this new robot-human control interaction is to offer real time support by automatically coordinating the machine joints motion.

The machine kinematics is transformed by this new control architecture to the most suitable one for a specific task and the machine’s control computer is trained to operate a synchronous movement pattern.

The Robotic Idler Predict, a  six-axis robot manipulator from MAR is mounted on a moving track. The robot manipulator is equipped with sensors and capable of automatic positioning of the sensing arms at specific locations of a conveyor.

The robotic idler Predict monitors conveyor idler rollers to determine signs of roller failure. Thermal imaging data from each idler to this robot is taken and presented to the operating system for analysis.

The system will trigger an alarm to warn operators if there are any signs of impending roller failure. Data collected by Predict can be utilized for the identification of conveyor idlers requiring replacement immediately or as part of future maintenance plans.

Mining Robots – Products in Market

Robotic Conveyor Contaminant Removal System from Machinery Automation and Robotics (MAR)

The contaminant removal system from MAR can operate while the conveyor is online. The MAR allows for collection of tramp metals. The advantages of this system include:

  • Improved conveyor up-time
  • Online contaminant removal
  • Risk of belt damage
  • Customized removal method that will suit mine site requirements
  • Elimination of workplace health and safety issues.

ZeroG from Equipois

The ZeroG from Equipois is an extension of one’s body that enables the operator to maneuver heavy parts and tools as if it had no weight. A zeroG system comprises of:

  • Payload angular freedom of motion using the gimbal system.
  • Components to attach a wide range of industrial tools and payload.
  • ZeroG arm to help with payload manipulation.

ZeroG robotic arm for grinding, sanding and drilling by Equipois.

AutoMine System from Sandvik

The AutoMine system from Sandvik is a complete solution for enhancing safety and efficiency of underground mining operations. The Automine is an open and versatile system that can used for the distinct requirements of each underground mining operation. The system can be combined with SCADA and production planning systems for better integration with the processes and system for the control of underground mining operations.

The advantages of the AutoMine system are:

  • High safety and enhanced working conditions for personnel.
  • Better utilization by enabling continuous operation during shift changes.
  • Better productivity due to real-time monitoring and control of production hauling and lauding processes.
  • Enhanced draw control through precise execution of the production plan and collecting production data.
  • Reduced maintenance costs through smooth operation of equipment and reduced damage
  • Lower operation costs through reduced operating labor.


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