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 NRL develops laser processing method to increase efficiency of optoelectronic devices
16.04.2019 | Naval Research Laboratory

nachricht Hollow structures in 3D
29.03.2019 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Process Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Explosion on Jupiter-sized star 10 times more powerful than ever seen on our sun

A stellar flare 10 times more powerful than anything seen on our sun has burst from an ultracool star almost the same size as Jupiter

  • Coolest and smallest star to produce a superflare found
  • Star is a tenth of the radius of our Sun
  • Researchers led by University of Warwick could only see...

Im Focus: Quantum simulation more stable than expected

A localization phenomenon boosts the accuracy of solving quantum many-body problems with quantum computers which are otherwise challenging for conventional computers. This brings such digital quantum simulation within reach on quantum devices available today.

Quantum computers promise to solve certain computational problems exponentially faster than any classical machine. “A particularly promising application is the...

Im Focus: Largest, fastest array of microscopic 'traffic cops' for optical communications

The technology could revolutionize how information travels through data centers and artificial intelligence networks

Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley have built a new photonic switch that can control the direction of light passing through optical fibers...

Im Focus: A long-distance relationship in femtoseconds

Physicists observe how electron-hole pairs drift apart at ultrafast speed, but still remain strongly bound.

Modern electronics relies on ultrafast charge motion on ever shorter length scales. Physicists from Regensburg and Gothenburg have now succeeded in resolving a...

Im Focus: Researchers 3D print metamaterials with novel optical properties

Engineers create novel optical devices, including a moth eye-inspired omnidirectional microwave antenna

A team of engineers at Tufts University has developed a series of 3D printed metamaterials with unique microwave or optical properties that go beyond what is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

Fraunhofer FHR at the IEEE Radar Conference 2019 in Boston, USA

09.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

New automated biological-sample analysis systems to accelerate disease detection

18.04.2019 | Life Sciences

Explosion on Jupiter-sized star 10 times more powerful than ever seen on our sun

18.04.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

New eDNA technology used to quickly assess coral reefs

18.04.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>