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CSIRO celebrates Global Star Wars Day by unveiling the next generation of robotics research Read more ...

An article in the Australian Journal of Mining describing the future of automation in the mining sector, highlighting the need for safety and geological awareness in autonomous systems. 

The dust storm that engulfed south east Queensland yesterday provided an unexpected opportunity for researchers from the Autonomous Systems Laboratory to test our autonomous vehicle navigation systems in adverse conditions.

Dust storm delivers unexpected opportunity

Testing the performance of the sensor suite on-board the hot metal carrier vehicle in our temporary dust laboratory at Pullenvale, Queensland.

Our key focus is on developing robotic systems that will operate reliably in the type of adverse conditions that may be experienced in a mining or industrial environment or in the advent or aftermath of a natural disaster. A significant challenge in testing and proving our systems is that it is difficult to simulate such conditions in a test environment. Indeed, recent work comparing the performance of radars and laser sensors in the presence of dust and rain was conducted by artificially generating those environmental conditions in a special test chamber.

Yesterday's freak weather conditions turned the entire QCAT site into a big dust-filled laboratory, and our ground robotics team took the opportunity to put the sensor suite on-board our hot metal carrier vehicle through its paces in the dust. The hot metal carrier successfully completed all of its autonomous missions during the test, and we found that some of the sensing systems actually performed better under these conditions than in full daylight.

Read more about the Autonomous Hot metal Carrier project here.

As a result of the mining industry's widespread push to reduce costs and increase productivity as safely, efficiently and profitably as possible, autonomous loading and hauling has formed one of the principal R&D thrusts in underground mining in recent years. Moving to fully automated vehicles forms the next logical step from the already well-known tele-remote-control systems for load-haul-dump (LHD) vehicles and offers some significant operational advances over this established technology. Read More in Mining Technology