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IIT Roorkee Robotics Researchers Explore Drone Deployment in SECL Coal Mines

A team of robotics experts from IIT Roorkee performed testing in the opencast mines of Chhattisgarh-based Coal India subsidiary, South Eastern Coalfields Ltd., in a significant effort to advance digitalization in coal mines.

Under the project “Design and development of an intelligent unmanned aerial vehicle applied to open cast minefield surveillance for real-time monitoring, hazards, and vulnerability assessment,” a team from IIT Roorkee is now working on building drones for coal mines.

Under the initiative, the team has begun work on constructing a drone to address stock measuring issues in open-pit mines. Once constructed, the drone would assist any surveyor in estimating coal or overburden stocks by deploying it to any portion of the mine.

The research will be funded by the IIT Delhi’s I-HUB FOUNDATION FOR COBOTICS (IHFC) – Technology Innovation Hub.

3D TLS technology is now utilized to estimate overburden and coal stock, however it has significant drawbacks. This constraint can be solved by using drones.

SECL mines to be the ground-zero for testing and development of drones

SECL will help provide the technical expertise on coal mines to the research team to help them with crucial data for the project. The IIT Roorkee team consisting of robotics expert Prof. Dr. Pushparaj Mani Pathak, Post-doctoral researcher Dr. Ashish Gupta and Masters student Zounnoon Ali Shaaban recently conducted tests related to drones in the Rajnagar coal mine of Hasdeo area and visited the Amadand mine of Jamuna Kotma area of SECL. The team also successfully tested the drone manufactured in their institute’s laboratory for the use of drone technology in coal mines. 

Use of drones to enhance production, productivity, logistics and safety in mines

The use of drones will help boost production and productivity in mines and provide for critical logistics support. By monitoring slopes and blasting through drones, the safety aspect of mines can also be drastically improved.

Drones can help precisely monitor rocks and other materials flying during blasting in open cast mines so that steps can be taken to mitigate accidents and false claims in this matter can be dealt with.

If any kind of goods need to be delivered to the face machineries, then drones can be used for this also. In case of an accident, medicines or food items can also be delivered to the manpower working on the face.

Many steps are being taken to digitalize mines at SECL under Coal India’s “Project Digicoal”

Under Coal India’s “Project Digicoal”, SECL has deployed many digital solutions in its mega projects, Gevra, Dipka and Kusmunda. These solutions aimed at enhancing worker safety, mine surveys, learning, and management include:

  • An SOS device called “Suraksha Kavach” allows workers in mines to call for help in case of an emergency.
  • Using drones for doing surveys of mines and analyzing mine topography without the need to physically go into risk-prone zones.
  • Technology-backed learning platform for all with modules on the latest industry trends.
  • Land Acquisition Management System (LAMS), a digital solution for end-to-end workflow management, digital verification of land records, process maps, and generation of R&R and compensation plans.

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