U.S. Bureau of Mines Coal Mining Automation Research.
SME Preprint 90-87 1990 :575-590
The automation (robotization) of coal mining activities at the face offers improvements in worker safety and productivity. The evolutionary introduction of autonomous, intelligent robotic machines to perform the most hazardous tasks may become a reality within the next 10 years. The U.S. Bureau of Mines robotics and automation research program is aggressively pursuing the development of the enabling technology necessary to achieve this goal. This program consists of both core and applications research, each focused on the fundamental issues of robotic technology. In the short term, the research is directed specifically to the robotization of present-day underground equipment and is being performed in a manner that can make incremental improvements in safety and productivity. The long-term goal is the development of intelligent autonomous mining systems. The research program includes the following: a review of robotic machine and autonomous vehicle technologies and of the current mining technology that provides a base for developing innovative mining methods; research in navigation and guidance technology emphasizing control of a continuous mining machine; research on sensing technology of the coal-rock interface for horizon control, and rib thickness control in highwall mining; the development of computer systems and hierarchical architectures for real-time control; and the development of expert systems for machine system fault diagnostics and preventive maintenance. A brief background and current status of each research area is presented.
SME Preprint 90-87, 1990, 12 PP.; Proceeds Am. Min. Congress Coal Convention, PP. 575-590