Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) are often used as inspection robots in the mining industry. AMRs are like autonomous guided vehicles (AGVs) but have more independence. AGVs need some kind of external guidance, such as permanent wires, magnetic strips, or sensors so they can navigate, but AMRs can navigate dynamic environments with very little external input.
AMRs are equipped with complex sensors to detect objects around them. The AMR’s onboard intelligence system allows it to learn its surroundings by uploading a map or by having the AMR navigate the site and build its own map. As a result, AMRs can navigate almost any industrial environment. This is necessary for mines because they are inherently dynamic.
By combining a mining robot with LiDAR technology, mobile robots get the most from 3D and high-resolution data. The sensors can provide the robot with a 360-degree real-time map so that it can travel safely and autonomously while detecting and avoiding obstacles. LiDAR sensors are easy to mount, have lower power consumption, and are easily programmed with a web configuration tool designed for high-stress environments, including inclement weather.
Mines Require Inspections of Hazardous Environments
Laws require that operational mines conduct regular service inspections. These inspections ensure safe ventilation and operations. After a mine’s life is over, many laws demand rehabilitation, but inspections and duties associated with rehabilitation often are overlooked. Abandoned mines grow more hazardous as time passes for personnel to enter and conduct surveys. Sending in a mining robot is a much safer alternative.
Some of the hazards and challenges the inspection robot must overcome include:
- Lack of ventilation and ground support
- Visible water inside the mine
- Transmit video feeds to determine mine’s condition
- Establish a mesh network to communicate with moving robots
Other Ways Mining Robots Are Used
A mining robot can autonomously navigate flooded passages. It can then use cameras and other sensors to recognize different minerals. The mining industry may decide to enter an abandoned mine to look for minerals that weren’t in demand while the mine was still in use. Newer technologies need different mineral deposits. Minerals that weren’t useful in the past may be indispensable today.
An inspection robot can’t fully reopen a mine, but before reopening the mine, it can be used to explore and make geological adjustments at far less cost. It can also qualify the mines that may be economically viable to reopen.
It can be a big challenge to navigate abandoned mines. Human divers are not safe in the flooded tunnels and murky waters. Navigating confined spaces with limited visibility is a better job for a mining robot.
Visit the Inspection Robots educational content on Robotics Online to learn more about the innovative use of robotics for inspection applications.