The mines of the future will be exploited by autonomous vehicles

Autonomous land vehicles will be the stars of the mining exploitation of the future. This is the trend that is drawn for the next few years.

Mining is a tough sector. It always has been and, to this day, concern for the miners working on the farms continues to exist. There have been increases in safety, no doubt, as well as improvements in sanitation. But it is not an easy environment to work. Hence, some companies have turned their gaze towards fleets of autonomous land vehicles.

The idea is that these robots do the work that miners do today. Until now, it has only been experimented with some machines that were controlled by remote control, by means of an operator. But traditional companies in the sector such as Rio Tinto or BHP are experimenting with fully autonomous vehicles.

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We are no longer talking about a remote control but about a machine – to get a mental idea: some are metallic giants seven meters high and that can carry up to 230 tons of weight – that knows perfectly what its function is and executes it with millimeter precision. . That is, the vehicle is programmed and contains detailed maps of the mine to operate without hindrance.

It is one thing to draw this idea on paper and quite another to put it into practice effectively. This means building the robots and it is not an easy task. Such an autonomous vehicle not only has to watch its course, You will also interact with materials of different kinds. Apart from the sensors associated with autonomous cars, such as GPS and LiDAR, it will be necessary to incorporate other technologies.

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To do so, the Japanese company Komatsu, one of the leading manufacturers of mining machinery, has partnered with the Californian startup Skycatch, which collects highly accurate information and analyzes aerial photographs. With it, the Japanese company has created what it calls Smar Construction, a process that involves drone mapping. These devices fly over the area to photograph it and then draw a 3D model of the area.

This data is entered into autonomous land vehicles, so that one manager can only supervise the work of several of them. The introduction of the new robots will not only mean greater safety for mine workers, those responsible estimate that it will also mean an increase in productivity.

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Images: V – wolf and Komatsu

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