Tele-Robotic Application in Mining Industry

Technical advances in the mining industry are dominated by improvements to safety and productivity. Tele-robotics can improve personal safety by removing people from hazardous environments. This has been used for more than half a century with conventional RF technology and is represented in the bottom row. Video will be transmitted to the human operators, who in return, respond with command signals to the robot. Unfortunately the performance of conventional tele-robotic system has been poor, both in term productivity and damage to the machine and there appear to be a complex trade off between safety and productivity. With advances in machine autonomy, such as digto-plan and cooperative behavior, there is an opportunity to redress this imbalance.

During the late 1990s there was great deal of interest in tele-robotics applications over the web. Although research was conducted to develop a system for the mining industry this technology was never commercially realized. The reason for this failure is unknown, but at this time, the technology was immature and probably did not provide the appropriate level of immersion and interaction necessary for control. With recent advances in network infrastructure, sensor technology and software standard (e.g. AJAX and .NET etc) tele-robotic is gaining renewed interest. In the mining industry, there is a demand for visual and haptic user interfaces that are capable of integrating complex geological data with real-time data streams from multiple and remote machine sensors within an open software framework.

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