An alinement (steering) sensor for continuous-mining machines has been developed under a Bureau of Mines contract. A laser source in the entry projects a beam parallel to the centerline of the entry. The beam is optically shaped to a narrow, vertical fan and illuminates an array of optical sensors mounted on the mining machine. These sensors interpret the location of the beam into meter readings of heading (angle) error and lateral displacement errors. The system, which was tested for 5 months in an operating mine, appears to be fundamentally sound, and with some modification, should be applicable to remote or automatic guidance of continuous miners and other machines.
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