Collision warning systems, however austere, can put a miner on the path to greater automation
There is a balancing act when it comes to delivering information. The suppliers that sell proximity detection systems in the mining sector are onto this, and the best-selling systems can be succinctly described as “simple.” While the components may be stunningly space-age, even satellite-based, the information the operator gets is often as sparse as it is fast. As Fabien Kritter, product manager, safety and autonomous solutions, Hexagon Mining, put it, it should instantly answer one and only one question. “Where is the other vehicle? Should I look on the right? Should I look at the left? Where should I look?” Nonetheless, almost paradoxically, the same proximity detection systems are often designed with a series of graduating upgrades in mind, in anticipation of the miner ultimately desiring eventual full automation. So, while today they are designed to save lives, they are also designed to someday fit into a bigger system where lives are no longer threatened at all. This sharp duality is illustrated in a handful of systems reviewed below.