The Pathway to Autonomous Mining: Step 3 — Full Autonomy

Related topics: Industries · Mining

While it may seem like something ripped from the pages of an Isaac Asimov novel, a fully autonomous, unmanned mining fleet can be implemented today using an operation’s existing mining vehicles. Companies in the mining space that are looking to integrate autonomous solutions may find it challenging and cost-prohibitive to instantly switch from a human labor force to one where advanced robots complete the majority of production tasks.

While some mine operations have the resources to support broad autonomy deployments via pilot or sandbox sites, others may need a more gradual approach.

For those operations, ASI has pioneered a three-step, gradual approach that ends in full autonomy, as we reveal in the conclusion of our series on the pathway to autonomous mining.

With an operator still behind the wheel, shadowing is conducted by gathering data from the system in the background and running autonomous simulations within the actual mine circuit. During these trials, the system generates “hypothetical driven” data and compares this to “as-driven” data; in a way, studying and learning from manual operations.

This step also provides the opportunity to address any potential COMMS or false positive obstacle detection events. Administrators can make modifications as needed, and obtain a high-level assessment of system readiness prior to a switchover to unmanned autonomy. Shadow trials minimize potential disruption of mine production for a frictionless transition.

Full autonomy under a graduated methodology is made possible by the two phases that preceded it, driver assist and partial autonomy. In step one, driver assist, the OEM agnostic command and control platform, Mobius, is introduced to provide data gathering, position monitoring, and reporting functionality similar to most FMS applications.

Mobius acts as a hub that allows for the integration of additional features like a collision warning system (CWS). In step two, modules and hardware are added to expand the functions of Mobius, including an actuated collision avoidance system (CAS), and auto-spotting which allows unmanned control of vehicles.

At this point, human operators are still in the vehicle, but all the elements are in place to migrate to unmanned full autonomy. However, before autonomy is given the helm, it’s highly recommended that shadow trials (via Mobius Shadow Trial module) take place.

Shadow trials serve as a bridge between manned and unmanned operations. With the system finely calibrated and the humans comfortable with directing advanced robotics, Mobius can take the reins of the mining production process.

Migrating to a driverless fleet isn’t out of reach. At ASI, we make it possible with our 3-step incremental approach that is designed to mitigate both the risk and cost of switching to autonomy.

We have the tools to upgrade current mining vehicles with smart software and robust hardware, transforming them into highly productive, fully autonomous machines. For more information about our driverless solutions, visit us at www.asirobots.com today!