The event, held at the Millenium Gallery in Sheffield, saw over 55 attendees from the mining, robotics and autonomous systems sector coming together for a collaborative workshop on how to solve some of the major challenges within mining.
Sheffield Robotics, in association with STFC Boulby Underground Lab, held the first Global Workshop for Robotics and Autonomous Systems in Mining on Wednesday 2nd March.
After a review of mining around the world and an introduction to the future of Mining from the Camborne School of Mines, a series of talks and roundtable workshops were held throughout the day.
One of the workshops focused on the question: ‘What are the most important problems facing the mining sector over the next 50 years that requires new research to solve them?
In another session, attendees, including representatives from Sandvik Mining, Joy Global Ltd and Cleveland Potash as well as 10 universities, ranked and prioritised key themes for the industry. The most critical themes were Safety; Accessing Small Ore Deposits; Energy Efficiency; Accessing Remote Ore Deposits; and Skills Shortages, in order of priority.
Professor Tony Dodd, Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering, University of Sheffield, said: "The aim of the day was to formulate a robotics and autonomous systems research strategy involving all key stakeholders. We prioritised key areas crucial to optimising impact in this area and supporting the mining industry to reach its full potential economically, productively and increasing safety and sustainability in the sector.
"It was fantastic to see so many engaged attendees from the robotics and mining sectors and I look forward to developing networks and partnerships to develop research projects in this area."
The results and feedback from the workshop will progress the groundwork established by recent initiatives both within Europe and globally, such as SPARC, to shape the implementation of key strategic plans and a roadmap for the industry.
Sheffield Robotics is an interdisciplinary research institute, which spans multiple departments and five faculties, and has members in both The University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University. The institute has one of the largest portfolios of ongoing publicly-funded robotics research in the UK, supported by both the UK Research Councils and the European Union.
STFC Boulby Underground Laboratory
STFC Boulby Underground Laboratory is the UKs deep underground science facility operating in a working Potash mine in the North East of the UK. Funded by STFC and supported by the Boulby mine operators ICL-UK. The Boulby lab hosts a range of research studies from astrophysics to astrobiology, including robotics development for space exploration and mining.