Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Carnegie Mellon demonstrates autonomous robot

02.06.2003


Explores abandoned mine



Carnegie Mellon University researchers, working with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), will demonstrate a prototype, autonomous wheeled robot today as it explores and maps a 3,500-foot corridor of an abandoned coal mine near New Eagle in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Named Groundhog, the robot was developed by students in the Robotics Institute’s Mobile Robot Development class. It’s armed with an array of cameras, gas, tilt and sinkage sensors, laser scanners and a gyroscope to help it surmount the obstacles it will encounter during its unprecedented journey. Typical hazards in an abandoned mine could include roof fall, abandoned equipment and ponded water.


Groundhog will enter the Mathies Mine from a portal near its supply yard and make its way through the darkness to a coal preparation plant more than a half-mile away. The robot travels at a speed of 15 centimeters a second. It will be equipped with a wireless video system that will send back images from the first 500 feet into the mine and, if all goes as planned, from the final 500 feet of its odyssey. Researchers expect that it will take the robot three hours to travel from portal to portal in the mine.

To fulfill its mission, the robot uses perception technology to build maps from sensor data. It must make its own decisions about where to go, how to get there and, more important, how to return safely. Reliable navigation technology is important because of the hazards in abandoned mines. The robot also contains computer interfaces that enable people to view the results of its explorations and use the maps it develops. Groundhog incorporates a technique developed at Carnegie Mellon called Simultaneous Localization and Mapping or SLAM, which enables robots to create maps in real time even as they explore an area for the first time.

"Groundhog has to be ultra reliable because we don’t have the option of taking control of it to correct its mistakes," said Robotics Institute Systems Scientist Scott Thayer, who teaches the Mobile Robot Development class with Robotics Institute Fredkin Research Professor William L. Red Whittaker. "The key is our state-of-the-art autonomous exploration and mapping software technology. The robot creates the map, makes its own plan, explores and comes back with useful information."

Groundhog was developed in response to an incident at the Quecreek Mine near Somerset, Pa. last July, when nine miners nearly drowned when they accidentally breached the wall of an adjacent flooded mine that they thought was a safe distance away from where they were working. Inaccurate maps were cited as a cause of the accident.

Robotics Institute students did a demonstration of Groundhog last fall at a mine near Burgettstown, Pa. The robot, which was on a tether, traveled 150 feet into the facility that had been abandoned since 1920. That expedition proved the feasibility of using mapping technology to explore abandoned mines.

"Because it’s autonomous, Groundhog represents one of the real junctions in robotics technology," Whittaker said. "The Groundhog is only the beginning. We see future generations of machines that will swim, crawl and climb through mines to enhance safety, support rescue and ultimately enable robotic operations beyond mining in caves, bunkers, aqueducts and sewers."

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has given the Carnegie Mellon researchers a grant to develop another robot called Ferret, a cylindrical device designed to be dropped through boreholes into a void. It uses a laser rangefinder to build 3D maps of an otherwise inaccessible space.

"The Commonwealth is committed to researching new technologies that can help us map abandoned mine workings, and we are pleased to partner with Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute as they explore the possibility of sending a robot in to map the extent of these mine voids," said DEP Acting Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty. "These are areas out of reach to those of us on the surface, but if we can use robotic technology to chart these workings, then we will have gained an invaluable tool in our efforts to protect the miners of the Commonwealth from facing another tragedy such as the Quecreek Mine accident."

Anne Watzman | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cmu.edu/

More articles from Process Engineering:

nachricht New manufacturing process for SiC power devices opens market to more competition
14.09.2017 | North Carolina State University

nachricht Quick, Precise, but not Cold
17.05.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT

All articles from Process Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

3rd Symposium on Driving Simulation

23.10.2017 | Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Introduction of a novel system for in vitro analyses of zebrafish oligodendrocyte progenitor cells

23.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Did you know how many parts of your car require infrared heat?

23.10.2017 | Automotive Engineering

3rd Symposium on Driving Simulation

23.10.2017 | Event News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>