Robots to say hasta la vista, mine

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(1 Vote)

Terminator, Transformers, Robocop, Bicentenial Man – these are just a handful of robots we’ve come to know and love.
On film is where we meet these fictional characters – and on film is where we’d expect them to stay.

But what if all of that was about to change?

What if robots could work alongside us in the Australian mining industry?

Childish dreams of Robocop saving the world from disaster might be a little far-fetched – but robots helping us navigate dangerous mine sites is becoming a reality.

Mining giant Anglo American, which has stakes in six Australian mines, has contracted an American university to build "Profiler" bots that will navigate dangerous subterranean areas.

Over the next five years, American Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotic Institute will design, build and deploy mining robots, robotic tools and autonomous technologies in partnership with Anglo American’s Technology Development Group.

Dimi Apostolopoulos is the principal investigator and senior systems scientist at the University’s National Robotics Engineering Centre.
He said: “This agreement will break new ground in mining technology. We will apply robotics to underground mining tasks that are perilous and extremely challenging for humans. Our robotic solutions will improve productivity through innovations in processes and technologies.”

If all of this isn’t quite supernatural enough for you, let’s take it a little further out of this world: Space mining.

That’s right.

We’re talking about sending robots into space to drill holes in Mars, the moon and asteroids. The sky’s the limit!

Last month, mining experts from around the world met at the Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research at the University of NSW to talk about mining in outer space.

NASA’s off-earth mining specialist Laurent Sibille was among the experts. He told SBS World News Australia: “I’m here because we are very interested in what Australia is doing in different sectors, both in mining because of their expertise and their innovation [in] space technologies.”

Robotics expert with UNSW Dr Gordon Roseler also told SBS World News Australia that robots are one way for Australia to contribute to outer-space mining.

“We won’t get there without it, in other words, robots are the only way to get there that is affordable and safe,” Dr Roseler said.

“[If] you recognise that this is just in its infancy, so if you strike out fast, if Australia throws itself at this, it could really be a key player.”

 

References:


http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/1739332/Space-the-mining-frontier
http://www.cmu.edu/news/stories/archives/2013/january/jan9_miningrobots.html
http://www.angloamerican.co.za/media/press-releases/2013/pr16-01-2013.aspx

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