Progress was reported concerning the developing research and technologies needed for computer assisted teleremote operation of continuous mining machines, haulage systems and roof bolting machines as part of the reduced exposure mining system. The research has been devoted to six main concepts. First, the equipment must have sensors on its moving parts. Second, navigation and guidance systems must provide the control system with position and orientation data. Third, coal/rock interface detection must afford the means for keeping the mining machine in the desired part of the coal seam. Fourth, data communications must provide the link between the activities of the machine and a computer located at a convenient control station. Fifth, control software must allow the program code to run quickly and predictably as well as be easily understood, changed, and documented. Lastly, the operator must be able to understand what is going on with the machine and interface successfully to modify the activity. In the future, system performance should be tested and demonstrated using test sites of open pit and highwall mines. Such demonstrations could convince industry and equipment manufacturers that the use of this equipment can improve their financial productivity through the reduction of injuries and fatalities and their associated costs.
NIOSH Pittsburgh Research Laboratory, P.O. Box 18070, Pittsburgh, PA 15236