Research team uses Husky UGV to run autonomous sensor data in Chile’s mines; goal to remove humans from dangerous environments.

(Kitchener, ON, Canada - January 22, 2015) The University of Chile's Department of Electrical Engineering and the Advanced Mining Technology Center are using the Husky unmanned ground vehicle to solve registration problems with complex sensor data in the mines. By doing so, accurate and reliable sensing and automation will exist to enable improved safety and efficiency for tele-operated and autonomous mining activities. The teams' overall mission is to minimize manpower in Chile's dangerous mining environments.

"Our project develops existing technologies so that terrain surface profile and mine mapping information can be extracted from noisy sensor data," explains Dr. Martin Adams, Professor at the University of Chile. "Our Husky-based sensing system will contribute significantly to the success and efficiency in which future mining operations take place."

The project, Autonomous Rock Surface Modelling and Mapping in Mines, was designed to collect motion characteristics from Husky and noise characteristics from radar (Acumine 2D scanning millimeter wave radar), laser (3D Riegle scanning laser range finder) and vision-based sensors to model open pit and underground mines. A millimeter wave radar was used to penetrate dust, Speed-Up Robust Feature (SURF) detection was analyzed to determine the applicability of information extraction from mapping and surface profiling in mines. Sensors were integrated using the Robot Operating System (ROS).

"There is an interest in robotics and automation technologies for resource extraction, both to increase productivity and improve worker safety," said Julian Ware, General Manager of Research Products. "The discovery that this team is undertaking is an important contribution to the field of mining research."

3D video footage and densely sampled data sets were successfully collected upon completing field tests and data is in the process of being submitted to the International Journal of Robotics Research. A leading mining company in Chile has expressed interest in the research; discussions are underway to determine how this technology can be integrated into their workforce.

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