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Academics want to upgrade miners’ helmets with augmented reality

The scientists’ goal is to discover a more efficient and secure method of performing mining activities.

As a hub for cutting-edge mining technologies, Sudbury is making notable advances in the AR arena. That was made clear to the Sudbury media representatives recently when they were given a guided overview of the NORCAT Underground Centre and shown a new mining helmet style.

The Applied Research branch of Cambrian College, NSS Canada (Northern Survey Supply), and NORCAT, which also runs an underground mine around Onaping, conducted the activity.

Through this initiative, NSS will be able to attach the Microsoft HoloLens-2 augmented reality system to hardhats used by mine workers.

Enhancing the safety of mining and making it a more hassle-free experience for underground employees is the primary point, according to Cambrian College’s Mike Commito.

According to Commito, by enabling miners to operate equipment farther away from the mining face, the AR system may make underground mining easier by lowering the chance of being struck by airborne or tumbling debris or rock. He added that the institution is quite eager to see what they can develop considering that even the most minor of tools can have a severe impact on the mining industry’s use of AR underground.

The HoloLens harness’ inability to fit a typical mining helmet is one of the researchers’ current obstacles. The present harness used on helmets, according to Bruno Lalonde, president of NSS Canada, is made for surface work. He said the business went to Cambrian College seeking a method that could be used for mining tasks.

The technology has been developed for hardhats used in civil engineering, according to Commito, the Director of Applied Research & Innovation at Cambrian College, but it has still not been implemented for mining. According to him, mining helmets must include cap lighting in addition to ear protection.

Commito elaborated further, saying that the AR device is made to fit various helmets. However, there are rules about the sorts of helmets one might see underground in the mining industry, such as shaft helmets or production helmets. He said that miners also need to tackle the issue of wearing PPE on their hard hats, such as a lamp or hearing protection.

One goal, according to Committo, is to make a helmet that miners will find helpful and pleasant so that they won’t disregard it because it’s too heavy or difficult to use. He said that every time a manufacturer adds more equipment, miners are undoubtedly carrying about more weight, which could be uncomfortable. Therefore, developers and academia are eager to solve this issue. It is well known, he claimed, that something lightweight and durable enough to handle the HoloLens must be built.

The study team showed how the MOSS (Miner Operated Survey Technology) and the innovative HoloLens-2 technology may be utilised to plan out the profile of a new step in the development direction. The face, or rock wall, is where miners really operate. It is where they prepare their drilling strategy before beginning to drill. By aligning one’s finger at the rock face and using gesture control to create the shape of the drift, a miner may use the HoloLens-2.

The HoloLens-2 tracks the movements and utilises specialised tools and MOSS to identify the ideal drill pattern, according to NSS general manager Matthew Brown.

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