[VIDEO] ASI Testing out New Autonomous Mining Dozer
The mining industry has sprung to life in recent years, finding new ways of improving productivity while keeping costs low. One of those methods has been the use of automation.
U.S. based robotics specialist ASI (Autonomous Solutions Inc.) has been working on a number of systems to enhance the mining industry. The company is known for implementing robotics in a variety of mining platforms such as excavators, rigid haul trucks, articulated dump trucks and drills. ASI has now turned its direction to autonomous mining dozers.
The company’s mining team has entered the testing phase for a robotic dozer project, experimenting with the project near its headquarters in Mendon, Utah. So far, ASI is pleased with the results.
To convert manual dozers into robotic control, ASI utilizes technology very similar to what it already uses for most of its vehicles. It consist of NAV™ (onboard computer and communications system), Vantage® (obstacle detection and avoidance features), and Mobius™ (command and control software).
ASI implements a unique range of features to its automation. This includes emergency stop, obstacle detection and vehicle control unit.
The emergency stop (E-Stop) features allow for unmanned vehicles to be controlled and stopped if the vehicle loses signal or leaves an area without permission. The e-stop control allows for mining operators to override the unit and remotely apply its brakes. The obstacle detection element utilizes sensors to enable unmanned vehicles to identify obstacles from a safe distance and react with dynamic behavior. Additionally, the vehicles on-board automation computer, otherwise known as VCU, actively monitors all sensors, actuators, communications and controllers for any errors. It overviews the entire vehicle, ensuring all systems are operating correctly.
ASI’s new technology helps to combat growing challenges in the mining industry such as unscheduled vehicle maintenance, variance, and idle times. The company’s new robotic bulldozer can perform longer operating hours, decreased downtime for shift changes and maintenance as well as increases in fuel efficiency. Overall, the new bulldozer can offset labor costs and eliminate inefficiencies and bottlenecks with mine operations.
One of the major driving forces behind ASI’s commitment to automation is the safety benefit. In 2012, there were 8177 mining –related injuries. The company is driving safety standards within the vehicle automation industry, providing multiple layers of redundant safety features built in to every automation kit delivered.
Together, this technology forms a universal automation solution the mining industry desperately needs.
Rio Tinto and Alcoa begin construction with ELYSIS tech
Eliminating all direct greenhouse gases from aluminium smelting has taken a major step forward with the start of construction on the first commercial-scale prototype cells of ELYSIS’ inert anode technology, at Rio Tinto’s Alma smelter in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec.
ELYSIS has the potential to reduce the carbon footprint of aluminium production
ELYSIS is a joint venture company led by Rio Tinto and Alcoa that is developing a new breakthrough technology, known as inert anode, that eliminates all direct greenhouse gases (GHGs) from the traditional smelting process and instead produces oxygen.
The technology has the potential to transform the aluminium industry, with a significant reduction in its carbon footprint.
The inert anode prototype cells will operate on a commercial scale typical for large modern aluminium smelters, using an electrical current of 450 kiloamperes (kA).
The Honourable Francois-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry joined representatives from ELYSIS, Rio Tinto and Alcoa to mark the start of construction and announce a further CAD $20mn financial contribution from the Government of Canada to support the project.
The federal government's financial support will enable the creation of a unique commercial size inert anode technology showroom for future customers and will help develop the supply chain by involving local and regional equipment manufacturers and suppliers in the project.
ELYSIS is working to complete the technology demonstration by 2024 followed by the commercialization activities.
ELYSIS technology at a glance:
- The ELYSIS technology addresses the global trend towards producing low carbon footprint products, from mobile phones to cars, planes and building materials.
- The new process will reduce operating costs ofaluminiumsmelters while increasing production capacity. It could be used in both new and existing aluminium smelters.
- In Canada alone, the ELYSIS technology has the potential to reduce GHG emissions by 7 million tons, the equivalent of removing 1.8 million cars from the roads.
- ELYSIS will also sell next-generation anode and cathode materials, which will last more than 30 times longer than traditional components.
Alcoa and Rio Tinto will continue to support the ELYSIS development program alongside the Governments of Canada and Quebec.
ELYSIS is working closely with Alcoa's Technical Center, where the zero-carbon smelting technology was invented, and the Rio Tinto technology design team in France.
Alcoa's Technical Center supports ELYSIS in the manufacture of proprietary materials for the new anodes and cathodes that are essential to the ELYSIS process. The Rio Tinto technology team in France is creating commercial scale designs for the ELYSIS technology.
Vincent Christ, CEO, ELYSIS commented: “This is a great day for ELYSIS. It means that we are becoming the first technology company in the world to build commercial-size inert anode cells. While we refine the technology in our R&D Centre, we start the construction of our prototype cells. This shows our confidence in our process and in the know-how of our team. The combination of ELYSIS' zero CO2 technology and Quebec's renewable energy will be great competitive advantage for the future. I would like to thank the government for its support and all the partners for their commitment.”
Samir Cairae, Rio Tinto Aluminium managing director Atlantic Operations and ELYSIS board member added: “Today marks a real step towards the future of the aluminium industry, by progressing this breakthrough technology to cut carbon emissions. Rio Tinto is committed to supporting its ongoing development here in Quebec where we already use clean hydropower to deliver some of the world’s lowest carbon aluminium. Combining this technology with renewable hydropower holds the promise of zero carbon aluminium smelting.”