Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology has unveiled the direction it thinks the underground mining industry is heading: fully-electric, autonomous and cabin-less.
During its virtual Innovation in Mining event on September 29, David Hallett, Global Product Line Manager, Automation, and Jussi Puura, Research and Technology Development, Digitalization Lead, unveiled its next-generation AutoMine® Concept vehicle to back up this view.
Based on the latest technologies and equipped with completely new sensing capabilities and artificial intelligence to enhance mining operations, the AutoMine Concept vehicle perceives its surroundings and environment in 3D and reacts to it in real-time, Sandvik says.
These technologies provide clear customer advantages by allowing vehicles to adapt and plan their own routes, and to find the most suitable paths even in continuously changing environments, according to the company. The obstacle detection, collision avoidance and 3D online mapping capabilities, meanwhile, improve adaptability and increase flexibility.
During a demonstration of the machine tramming, loading and dumping material at the Sandvik Test Mine in Tampere, Finland, Hallett and Puura explained how this cabin-less, fully-electric machine worked.
“With this concept vehicle, we have the ability to not only showcase our future technologies, but build the platform and foundation for our next-generation automation products,” Hallett said.
“Subsequently, we will start to gradually deploy these technologies to our existing AutoMine products providing opportunities for our current customer base to realise value with the products they have today, and make them readily available for future customers, as well.”
Sandvik says the vehicle represents a foundation for using the AutoMine technology in various equipment types and can be applied to any vehicle.
Hallett added: “The AutoMine concept is not a manual machine we have adapted for automation, but rather the opposite in which the machine has been designed for automation in mining.”
Puura stated a key differentiator of this concept vehicle compared with the company’s existing AutoMine range.
“Our target is to make these autonomous machines work safely with people and manual machines in the same area without the need for area isolation or safety gates.”
Riku Pulli, Vice President, Automation at Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology, said the AutoMine Concept is the world’s first fully autonomous underground mining machine built specifically for automation.
“This technology raises ease-of-use, effectiveness of asset utilisation and adaptability to a new level, resulting in higher productivity,” he said. “These technologies will truly change the face and pace of autonomous mining.”