In order to develop new robotic technologies for mining, Carnegie Mellon University has partnered with the London-based mining company, Anglo American PLC, for a term of five years.
Anglo American PLC is among the largest mining companies in the world, while CMU’s Robotics Institute (RI) is one of the most acclaimed robotics institutions in the United States.
Tony Stentz, director of the National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC), which will coordinate the program along with CMU’s Field Robotics Center (FRC), commented on the agreement.
“We are excited that Anglo American selected CMU as its partner for developing innovative mining robotics,” said Stentz.
Anglo American’s Donovan Waller, leader of automation and remote control technology, explained the reasoning behind his company’s choice of the RI at Carnegie Mellon, saying, “Working with top robotics experts is essential to our technology and innovation programs. Our agreement with Carnegie Mellon University will allow us to rapidly deploy new systems in our platinum mines and develop technologies that will shape our future operations.”
CMU’s Robotics Institute has had success in the past with mining automation projects, and its new focus for Anglo American will include the development of advanced perception capabilities, electromechanical systems, and other robot-based technologies geared toward the mining profession.
“We will work hard to get production robotics in place as soon as possible,” assured NREC principle investigator and senior system scientist Dimi Apostolopoulos. “This agreement will break new ground in mining technology. We will apply robotics to underground mining tasks that are perilous and extremely challenging for humans.”
Anglo American will supply engineers for the project, who will apply already field-proven technologies developed by the NREC and the FRC, but localize them for deployment in mines.
Some applications planned for this project include robotic mining machinery and mine mapping, as well as automated inspections.
Developing automated inspections will likely prove the most beneficial product to come out of the agreement, as the inspections are generally the costliest, and most dangerous of all mining jobs.
Anglo American works worldwide to mine various commodities including iron ore, copper, nickel, platinum, diamonds, and thermal and metallurgical coal, so this agreement is a step in the right direction--it will undoubtedly facilitate the operations of Anglo American, as well as expand CMU’s foothold in the robotics industry.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman