The age-old process of cleaning and making safe rock faces in mines could soon be replaced by an autonomous robotic system.
Perenti subsidiary Ausdrill, the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre and the University of Technology Sydney have joined to back a research project that combines robotics and virtual reality to make rock scaling operations safer.
They are jointly funding a $480,000 system to evolve the robotic Halo platform developed by UTS and Ausdrill in 2020 – Halo for high access localised operations,
The project team, led by UTS’s Dr Gavin Paul, will integrate a robotic arm that can scale walls and a control system capable of translating human motion and commands into robotic movements.
The project will also explore VR interfaces and devices connecting Halo with a human operator.
Until now rock scaling has been conducted by teams who abseil over a rock surface to clear away lose rock that could make mine operations dangerous.
A successful robotic system would solve multiple health and safety issues and replace qualified personnel who are currently in short supply.
Ausdrill plans to develop a prototype that can be manufactured at its Perth facility and tested in the field.
Ausdrill COO Roy Coates said the use of VR and 3D interfacing would create a process never seen before.
Coates said: “Halo is a revolutionary new technology that will improve the safety and efficiency of rock scaling operations while also reducing the associated costs.”
An IMCRC director Simon Dawson said the fusion of online control of a robotic system through VR was a novel concept.
It demonstrates what is possible and how robotics, automation and VR can be applied in a practical sense to support and advance…manufacturing industry.”
Subscribe to our free @AuManufacturing newsletter here.