Australian Agency Selects Robots for Hazardous Mine Inspection
Thursday, August 15, 2019 | Comments

The Australian Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (DNRME) selected Australian Droid + Robot (ADR), a Brisbane-based company that specializes in the development for robots and drones for underground mine inspection, to assist with the inspection of an abandoned mine in Queensland.

The Collingwood tin mine site, located within a rainforest 30 kilometers south of Cooktown, was deemed by DNRME to be too hazardous for human inspection, and the department looked to trial robot technology.

Law requires that an operational mine conduct regular service inspection to maintain ventilation and overall safe operations. At the end of the mine’s life, laws call for the site’s rehabilitation, but the inspections and duties associated with this requirement are often overlooked. Over time, abandon mine conditions grow increasingly hazardous for personnel to enter and survey. Such was the case in Queensland. Sending a robot to assist was the safest option but not without challenges.

The abandoned mine could not be entered by personnel because of a lack of ventilation and known ground support. There was visible water inside the mine, making it a difficult terrain to traverse. It was challenging to get far enough inside the mine to determine the condition of the bulkhead, which would be out of range of ADR’s line-of-sight remote control or to transmit a high-definition video feed to determine the condition of the bulkhead. It was also a challenge to establish a wireless mesh network to maintain a continuous communications signal with moving robots.

ADR had to accept that some of their robots used for the mission might be unrecoverable. To offset the potential loss, ADR chose Rajant’s industrial wireless mesh network to maintain communications with each robot while underground. Each ADR robot had a wireless node onboard. The network maintained uninterrupted high throughput and low latency to overcome any obstacles. ADR’s robotic “inspectors” were enabled to independently scan, sense and explore on behalf of DNRME personnel.

“We were honored to be a resource for DNRME as this is exactly what we have spent a decade developing our technology to do,” said ADR’s Dr. Joe Cronin. “We are grateful for the opportunity and thankful for having a steadfast networking partner in Rajant.”

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