Date of Original Version
Abstract or Description
Underground coal mining is an industry well suited for robotic automation. Human operators are severely hampered in dark, dusty, and cramped mines, and productivity suffers. Even a slight improvement in productivity can amount to thousands of dollars of additional revenue per machine per day. Automation to date has relied on infrastructure to guide the equipment. The industry finds this approach unsuitable, and it has not taken root. Our approach uses machine-mounted video cameras to guide the equipment. It utilizes natural infrastructure and equipment commonly used in mines. We have demonstrated that our approach meets the requirements for cutting straight entries and mining the proper amount of coal per cycle. The technology is rapidly approaching beta form and will be deployed in several mines in the coming months.