Mining Contract: Intrinsically Safe Mine Rescue UAV Design - Phase 1

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Contract # 75D30120C09739
Start Date 9/1/2020
End Date 3/31/2022
Research Concept

The ultimate, long-term objective is to develop, test, and demonstrate a complete Mine Rescue Aerial Reconnaissance System (MRARS) capable of safely flying in underground coal mines during a mine emergency to assist mine rescue team operations. The MRARS UAV must be designed specifically to meet requirements for operation in hazardous mine environments. Therefore, the near-term objective of this Phase 1 proposal is to develop the basic design for and thus demonstrate the feasibility of an IS UAV that can ultimately achieve the critically important approval by MSHA for use in the hazardous areas of underground coal mines.

Contract Status & Impact

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The underground autonomous vehicle (UAV) design project intends to build upon prior research conducted by the XS&T Team which investigated the requirements for a UAV that was capable of safe and effective operation in an underground coal mine in response to a major mine emergency. To achieve an UAV design capable of MSHA approval for use in hazardous underground environments, the program must first focus on IS considerations. The UAV power and propulsion system with commercial motor/battery combinations that might be considered “inherently IS” by MSHA will be identified and evaluated for their potential use in UAV design. The size, weight, and power of appropriate commercial sensor technologies necessary for both successful underground flight operation and for mission-related data collection will be re-examined.

For the radio communication system options, the size, weight, and power for both flight control and data communication will be re-examined. The culminating technical activity for the project will be the development of an MRARS UAV initial basic design package (or packages) and system description based upon the prior investigations. A commercial equipment safety testing laboratory will then be selected to conduct an independent IS analysis of the UAV design package(s) which will reveal any IS design deficiencies and provide suggestions for addressing those deficiencies. Finally, the improved UAV design package(s) will be presented for informal review and comment to MSHA A&CC personnel to obtain their opinion about the IS aspects of the initial UAV design.

Page last reviewed: April 5, 2022
Page last updated: June 23, 2021