WVU Engineers are developing an autonomous robotic system to monitor the structural integrity and safety of underground mines to help prevent miners' injuries or deaths from roof collapses and falling debris.
Ihsan Berk Tulu, assistant professor of mining engineering, along with Jason Gross, Yu Guand Guilherme Pereira, from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, are developing an autonomous robotic system to monitor the structural integrity and safety of underground mines.
According to Tulu, in underground mines in the United States, “fall of ground”-related accidents are one of the leading causes of injuries. This occurs when part of the roof or a pillar collapse. Although underground stone mines have generally experienced good ground stability, a recent mine pillar collapse in Whitney, Pennsylvania and reported roof fall accidents in other mines highlight the potential safety impact on the miners.
By using a combination of remote vehicles that consist of an unmanned aerial vehicle attached to an unmanned ground vehicle, the team will provide high-resolution 3D maps for assessment of pillar and roof damage. These maps will be used to monitor the structural integrity of the mine pillars to enable an early detection of potentially dangerous conditions that could lead to a mine collapse.
To date, the team has designed the system, have started sensor integration, and have been testing various software components in our labs and within a relevant simulation environment.