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Carnegie Mellon, Anglo American Partner on Mining Robotics

Experimental robot, developed for Anglo American, is designed to survey and map mining tunnels (National Robotics Engineering Center)

Experimental robot, developed for Anglo American, is designed to survey and map mining tunnels (National Robotics Engineering Center).

Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and the mining company Anglo American PLC, based in London, agreed to develop robotic technologies for the mining industry. Financial terms of the five-year deal were not disclosed.

The agreement calls for Carnegie Mellon’s National Robotics Engineering Center to design, build and deploy with Anglo American mining robots, robotic tools, and autonomous technologies. The systems developed under the agreement are expected to adapt the National Robotics Engineering Center’s current work with advanced perception, electromechanical, and robotic systems to work on the company’s mining operations. Anglo American operates worldwide, producing iron ore, metallurgical coal, thermal coal, copper, nickel, platinum, and diamonds.

The agreement, say the parties, will focus on automating the most difficult, costly, and dangerous mining jobs to improve safety and increase the productivity and efficiency of Anglo American’s operations. Advances in robotics will help make more feasible the mining of hard-to-reach ore deposits that cannot be economically extracted under existing methods and mine layouts.

Dimi Apostolopoulos, principal investigator and senior systems scientist at National Robotics Engineering Center says the agreement “will apply robotics to underground mining tasks that are perilous and extremely challenging for humans,” adding, “Our robotic solutions will improve productivity through innovations in processes and technologies.”

Immediate robotics applications from the agreement are expected to include robotic mining machinery, mine mapping, and automated inspections.  Donovan Waller, who leads automation and remote control technology development for Anglo American, says the deal “will allow us to rapidly deploy new systems in our platinum mines and develop technologies that will shape our future operations.”

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