Autonomous Underground Mining Systems to Improve Safety - Intelligent Coal Mining

Grants and Contracts Details


This proposal aims to develop an autonomous shuttle car haulage system for underground mines. This is a very challenging problem that requires a holistic approach. Developing an autonomous underground haulage system will benefit all types of underground mining, however the most challenging application is that for coal mines due to the additional safety restrictions. This proposal will focus on developing an autonomous shuttle car system for underground coal mines but this technology can easily be utilized universally. The shuttle car has the fundamental task of transporting coal and rock from the continuous miner to the feeder breaker. This task has a lot of sub-tasks that all involve various points where the shuttle car operator needs to make decisions. A project by the investigators looked at all of the operations of underground coal mine face equipment to define all of the equipment’s operations. These operations and the time that the operations take were compiled into activity states for the equipment. Equipment decisions on activities is how states were defined in the work. All of these decisions and states were compiled into a simulator engine that can be used for understanding the whole face operations. The Shuttle Car Safety Automation System Development proposed in this project aligns with the Alpha Foundation for the Improvement of Mine Safety and Health’s topic area 1) Health and Safety Intervention. This project is intended to move the shuttle car operator away from the dust, mist, equipment and other hazards present at the continuous miner and the feeder breaker. Of particular interest is to remove the miner from exposure to dust and noise. During every shift shuttle cars make many trips from the miner to the feeder. During each trip the detrimental effects of these conditions accumulate, which adds up over the course of a career in the underground environment. Removing the operator from the machine will be accomplished by creating engineering controls and modifications to the machine design. The machine operation developed in this project is a radical change that will require careful attention to the impact on workers at the face. Experts in human machine interface and intervention techniques are engaged in the work ensuring the effectiveness of the strategy. Communication of the autonomous machine with the workers around it is a critical component. Therefore, this project addresses the topic areas priorities of Machine Design and Ergonomics as well as Monitoring System and Integrate Control Technologies.
Effective start/end date12/1/179/28/23


  • Alpha Foundation for the Improvement of Mine Safety and Health Incorporated: $2,195,160.00


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.