A monster underground

Posted on March 14, 2019

Mining is a dangerous job. One of the things that makes it dangerous is the ground falling in. Someone has to check that new tunnels and mines are safe to start working in - but this is dangerous for the people doing the checking! That is where the newly developed MONSTER robot is going to change things. Instead of sending people down to check the safety, the MONSTER will do it for them. Loose rocks have more air around them than rocks that are attached tightly to the wall. Because of this, the loose rocks will have a lower temperature. The MONSTER uses thermal imaging to find those rocks. Then to confirm that the rocks are really loose, it taps them!

Have you ever tapped on an empty and a full tin with your finger? They give a different sound. Well, the same principle applies when checking the rocks. A different sound is given off from a loose rock than one that is tightly packed into the wall. The MONSTER taps the rock and then “listens” to the sound given off. It can then confirm that the rock is loose and therefore it is an unsafe area to go into. Such innovations aim to make mining safer and more efficient. They are part of a collaboration called the ‘Mandela Mining Precinct’. The South African Minister of Science and Technology, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane launched the Mandela Mining Precinct in September 2018.

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An infrared camera detects heat waves in a similar way to how your eyes detect light. So infrared cameras can “see” heat. Thermal imaging uses a computer to create a visible image from the invisible heat waves. pic: Pixabay/withplex

 

This content was produced in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology

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