Computer-Assisted Coal Mining ? An Overview

by George H. Schnakenberg, Jr., U.S. Dep of the Interior, Pittsburgh, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Robotics for Challenging Environments


The U.S. Bureau of Mines was created to conduct research to improve the health, safety, and efficiency of the coal and metal mining industries. In 1986, the Bureau embarked on a new, major research effort to develop technology that would enable relocation of workers from areas of hazard to areas of relative safety. This effort is in contrast with historical efforts by the Bureau, that of controlling or reducing the hazardous agent or providing protection to the worker. The technologies associated with automation, robotics, and computer software and hardware systems had progressed to the point that their use to develop computer-assisted operation of mobile mining equipment appeared to be a cost effective and an accomplishable task. This paper is an overview of the Bureau's ongoing research program on computer-assisted underground coal mining. The research will develop and demonstrate the technologies required for the computer-assisted tele-remote operation of continuous mining machines, haulage systems, and roof bolting machines. Such technologies include hierarchical real-time control systems, guidance sensors, and coal seam boundary detection.

Subject Headings: Coal mining | Mines and mining | Computer aided operations | Control systems | Occupational safety | Equipment and machinery | Automation and robotics

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