Robotics stepping up safety in underground mine inspections – by Lindsay Kelly (Northern Ontario Business – November 1, 2019)

Combining old technology with modern robotics has resulted in a new safety innovation for underground mines that’s expected to reduce risk and improve efficiency.

The MRC Rail Runner, developed by SafeSight Exploration Inc. of North Bay, is a utility robot clamped onto a mechanized rail climber (MRC), which is sent up into a raise to do an inspection.

The robot is designed to replace humans who are required to visually inspect the raise for look for risks like potentially loose rock. In underground mining, a raise is a vertical underground excavation, running between various levels, that’s used for ventilation to the surface or for transporting ore and waste rock.

“Provincial regulations say that, every shift, the environment must be assessed or observed, and that meant sometimes travelling a couple hundred feet inside the raise to assess any inherent danger in this rock,” said Mike Campigotto, SafeSight’s president.

“That meant putting a human being at risk to visually inspect, and there wasn’t any alternative for that.” With the MRC Rail Runner, the robot enters the raise, records video, and returns to the operator, effectively completing the required inspection without the worker ever having to enter the raise.

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