Autonomous robots and the Internet of Things in underground mining
The use of modern information and communication technologies (ICT) is an essential driving force for innovations in most social and economic fields. Use of ICT in the mining and special civil engineering sector is also increasing, from ever-improving automation to the vision of fully automated operating mines or tunnel building sites. Technical support for personnel with information and robotic assistance will be especially applicable in high risk environments. This can be exploration and documentation of historic mines or under toxic conditions, e.g. after fires or explosions, to support the rescue teams.
In the last few years in Freiberg, research in two key technologies for the new sector of “Mining 4.0” has been conducted: the use of mobile robots in mining (Mining-RoX), and the Internet of Things (IoT) through the installation of sensor networks in the research and teaching mine Reiche Zeche. In the project ARIDuA the leading position of Freiberg in this field will be secured and further developed by connecting these two technologies.
Robotics and the IoT have a synergistic relationship: on the one hand, robots can profit from IoT infrastructure, e.g. by using sensor data for better navigation, and on the other hand robots can help to install IoT infrastructure. A good example would be the robotic installation of sensors for early detection of dangerous conditions and environmental monitoring.
The methods under development have the possibility to massively increase the density of sensors monitoring the mine and mining equipment, by installing corresponding sensor networks. Additionally, through qualifications of companies and personnel, improvements in different fields of mining equipment will be reached, e.g. operating fully automated equipment for real-time mine planning, process optimization, health and safety, and environmental monitoring. At TU Bergakademie Freiberg the project will take a central part in a university-wide research focus “Smart Mining”.
The research and teaching mine Reiche Zeche, of the TU Bergakademie Freiberg, will be used as training area for practical tests. In the mine the project team will use the infrastructure of the "LivingLab". The robot platform is the robot "Julius", which was developed in the project "Mining-RoX"