All posts tagged: electronic technology

LX Electronic RobotIf you’ve had your eye on a career in the mining industry, which pays well and offers above average job security, here’s some advice. Brush up on your knowledge of robotics, electronics and automation. Even go a step further and obtain a relevant degree or certificate in the robotics and electronics field. The fact of the matter is simply that electronic robots are the next in the evolution of industry in general, and the in the mining industry specifically.

At What Cost?
Though improvements in excavation techniques have made mining such safer than it once was, it’s still an endevour inherent with hazards. Cave-ins, explosions and toxic gases are just a few of the better known dangers associated with mining, often with catastrophic results.

The fact that these dangers are so rampant means that it’s more difficult to attract the right people to the field, it’s harder to keep them and it costs a lot to insure them. By using electronic robots in some of the harder and more dangerous aspects of mining, the cost of all these three factors and more can be drastically reduced.

As old as the Hills?
Using electronic robots in mining is certainly not a new concept. Most mines in the world have a at least a few robots, and several mines have been using automated machinery for more than forty years. What’s new is the expanding roles robots can now take on, thanks to improvements in electronics and automation design. Just a few years ago, technology such as automated controls and virtual intelligence were not advanced enough to fully utilise robots in the roles they could best perform.

Remote Mining
The large mining firm Rio Tinto, which operates a substantial network of ore mines in Western Australia, is one of the early innovators in using electronic robots in their operation. In fact, the company envisions a time in the near future when the majority of their mining work will be performed by purpose designed and manufactured electronic robots. It is envisaged that many of these robots will be controlled from Rio Tinto’s headquarters in Perth, located hundreds of kilometers from the nearest mine. Though humans will still need to be present on site to deal with unforeseen occurrences, the on-site staff will be drastically reduced and that will translate into reduced operating costs. In addition, onsite staff will be less likely to be exposed to extreme situations; instead electronic robots will take on this role. Dig Safer.

Currently, Rio Tinto operates a small fleet of robotic trucks. The trucks are controlled by several forms of electronic technology that allows them to be aware of their environment. For general navigation, the trucks are fitted with GPS. For obstacle detection, they have laser rangefinders and avoidance radars. Vehicles fitted with the same technology currently traverse the highways of California as part of Google’s Streetview project. So far, no accidents can be attributed to the robotic vehicles.

Electronic Robots in the 21st Century
Rio Tinto is also developing a variety of electronic robotic technology to be used deep inside the mine. This includes robotic drilling devices, robotic blasting machinery and several other items to replace human labour in the most dangerous part of mining operations. Plans are already underway to increase the fleet of robotic trucks from around fifteen to well over one hundred. Dig Faster.

For modern life to function as we expect, extensive mining operations are essential. But mining has always been dangerous, expensive, labour-intensive work. As mineral deposits are depleted, the work involved becomes even more difficult. Often the mines have to be expanded thousands of feet deeper to continue to find deposits. Dig Deeper.

Electronic robots are the logical step in ensuring that mine operators can continue to extract the needed minerals without drastically increasing the costs and risks associated with the industry. If mining work is in your future plans, it’s time to become friendly with and knowledgeable about electronic robotic applications. Welcome to the 21st Century!

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.

Muhammad AwaisRobotics in Mining – Dig Deeper, Dig Faster, Dig Safer

futuristic carsThe idea of driverless cars is nearly as old as the car itself. Whether speaking of Night Ryder’s Kit or even of more futuristic flying versions seen in the Jetsons, the concept of leaving the driving to the car is deeply ingrained in us. For years, several companies and universities have been hard at work on the technology required to actually bring the dream into reality. Now, as we are well into the second decade of the 21st century, the dream is getting closer to that point.

Pilotless Planes? Why not Driverless Cars?
For the past several years, self-driving cars and other forms of transportation have been at the forefront of transportation technology. If it’s possible for a Boeing 747 to fly , land  and take off itself, why then should it be such a stretch of the imagination that a simple car could do the same? The U.S. military maintains fleets of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and very few accidents involving the aircraft have been reported – many fewer, in fact, than those of piloted military aircraft. Of course, the skies are much less crowded than say the freeways of Southern California, but the urban terrain that the planes fly over is just as congested.

To the Moon and Beyond!
Universities, corporations and the United States military have all developed and sponsored contests utilising driverless vehicles. Time after time, these vehicles have successfully navigated over hundreds of miles of terrain without the need for a human driver. Teams that complete the various tasks of the competition the quickest are awarded with prize money to be used to further advance the electronic sensor and navigation technology. NASA has also been closely watching the developments as they plan for an eventual exploration of Mars and a return to the Moon.

Google What?
While many companies, both in the automotive industry as well as technology field, have been developing this type of electronic technology for many years, one company has recently taken the forefront of putting these technological wonders into full-scale use. The Internet giant Google Inc. has been actively testing a fleet of driverless vehicles on the streets of California. Google’s hope is to eventually unleash a mega-fleet of these automated vehicles to take over the day-to-day work of its Google Maps Street View initiative. Currently, Google employs hundreds of drivers who navigate streets and roads in countries around the world, taking photos of the scenery along the way. This is then incorporated into the Google Maps service, allowing viewers to see an actual view of the area. In the near future, the driverless cars could help increase the frequency at which these photos and videos are updated, leading to a better Google Street View product.

License and Registration Please
As things currently stand as far as driverless car laws and regulations are concerned, driverless vehicles cannot operate independently. However, the United States Department of Transportation has authorised the cars to operate on public roadways as long as a human driver is available to take over in case of an emergency. On any given day, dozens of Google’s prototype fleet can be seen driving the streets and freeways of the San Francisco Bay area. After many months of testing, the vehicles have only been involved in one reported accident. While driving down a busy San Francisco street, a cyclist darted in front of one of the cars. The automated system sensed the cyclist and, as a human driver would do, it quickly applied the brakes, avoiding the careless cyclist. Unfortunately, the car following the Google automated car was following too closely and collided with the car’s rear bumper. There were no injuries, and the driverless car was deemed not to be at fault. 

As testing continues and the safety and efficiency of electronically controlled cars is proven, regulations will change, eventually leading to their use on public streets totally independently, that is, without humans onboard. The technology is here and has been for several years. What remains is to prove its safety and allow people to get comfortable with the idea of self-controlled automobiles. In a few years, it’s very possible that your take-out food could be delivered to your doorstep without a delivery driver. To be facetious, the only problem this presents is the question of how much to tip the car. Indeed, we are seeing the future of driving, and the driver’s seat is empty.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.

Muhammad AwaisThe Future of Cars