Sunday, October 16, 2011

Is Mining about to go Micro - Post 6 (and final)

Over the last 5 posts I've investigated some whacky ideas, but the world of robotics and automation are developing apace.   Here are a few links you might find interesting

Swarm Intelligence

These robots swarm, evolve, seek food, avoid poison, co-operate, and steal food from other robots.

Cool Robots
A New Scientist video recently turned up on Jack Uldrich's 'Jump the Curve' blog. Have a look at it to see some of the future of robots. New Scientist also has a blog specifically about robotics.

Robot Dragonfly article

Robotics, artitificial intelliegence, automation, and remote management are all technologies in which the rates of innovation now are enormous. New Scientist reports on a robotic dragonfly that could guide Mars rovers - giving the fly's eye view in a task analagous to helicopters being used as force projection assets of naval warships.

In the near future, further miniturisation of the electronics, and better smarts will mean that this kind of technology can be used to continually update the topography of an open cut mine, with swarms of such robots preceeding ultra large automated vehicles, helping automated shovels load automated trucks. Perhaps they will even be able to replace the truck fleet, with millions of tiny robot flies moving enormous tonnages of ore without the need for roads, ramps etc. Just the saving in the profile of the open cut pit would change the economics of mining.

Underground mines could benefit too, with robot miners like the fly moving in to survey the mine after blasting - testing the air, rockface stability, everything. There is also my previous post of the robot crawlers which could also operate underground in very confined spaces.

There is a lot to consider, and the extraterrestrial problems being solved by robots can also be applied here, today.

Autonomous Artifical Hummingbird

A prototype robot spy "ornithopter," the Nano-Hummingbird, has successfully completed flight trials in California. Developed by the company AeroVironment Inc., the miniature spybot looks like a hummingbird complete with flapping wings, and is only slightly larger and heavier than most hummingbirds, but smaller than the largest species.

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