Business Impact

Robomining

Robotics

Underground mining may have become a bit safer with the completion this March of a mining automation project in Copper Cliff, Ontario. A consortium including Toronto-based nickel producer Inco and equipment manufacturer Sandvik Tamrock launched the project five years ago; its goal was remote control, from the surface, of the machinery essential to hard-rock mining. Success means that for the first time workers would venture underground only to assemble the machinery and, occasionally, for maintenance work. Uninhabited tunnels would be smaller, and miners wouldn’t have to hike a kilometer every morning just to reach equipment-advances that would mean higher productivity.

The machines-outfitted with cameras and radio transmitters-are separated from the surface by hundreds of meters of rock, so they can use an unlimited range of radio frequencies without jamming surface transmissions. Partially unshielded coaxial cables fed into the mine serve as antennas, relaying real-time visual data to operators aboveground, who can control as many as three machines simultaneously with joysticks and foot pedals.

The project’s first successes were a ceiling drill and a front-end loader; the remaining machines, including a truck for hauling ore, will roll out over the next five years.

Cut off? Read unlimited articles today.

Become an Insider
Already an Insider? Log in.

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

More from Business Impact

How technology advances are changing the economy and providing new opportunities in many industries.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.
  • Insider Premium {! insider.prices.premium !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Our award winning magazine, unlimited access to our story archive, special discounts to MIT Technology Review Events, and exclusive content.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

    First Look. Exclusive early access to stories.

    Insider Conversations. Listen in as our editors talk to innovators from around the world.

  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus ad-free web experience, select discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning magazine and daily delivery of The Download, our newsletter of what’s important in technology and innovation.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

/
You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.