Autonomous Mining, Construction Vehicles Aid in Worker Safety

Autonomous Mining, Construction Vehicles Aid in Worker Safety

Self-guided bulldozers and mining trucks are being developed with advanced artificial intelligence to prevent equipment from colliding with human workers.

The future of vehicles has always been somewhat fantasized. Quotes from movies such as Back to the Future, "Roads? Where we are going, we don't need roads," and futuristic scenes depicted through novels make us feel like a tin can with four wheels getting us from Point A to Point B is just plain old boring. 

Perhaps this is why everyone was so excited a decade ago when the thought of an autonomous passenger vehicle was announced by the GoogleX self-driving car project. Was this finally the catalyst for flying cars and naps on single-manned road trips? 

In the ten years since, a lot has moved in the autonomous vehicle space, but it isn't every day you see a car on the road without a fully attentive driver behind the wheel. While the excitement around self-driving passenger vehicles calmed down, experts took their ideas, software and artificial intelligence and began applying it to other vehicles, especially vehicles in the industrial, mining, agriculture and construction industries.

It is widely observed that the applications of autonomy in these worlds works best as they have defined automation tasks. The implementation of automation results in less human-machine interactions and clear-cut geo-fenced areas bound the machinery to certain spaces decreasing the likelihood of a runaway bulldozer. 

Simply put, these are highly controlled areas that lend themselves to automation. 

A lot of moves have been made in the automated labor vehicle space in the decade since Google announced their self-driving car. For instance, Caterpillar developed semi- and fully-autonomous haulage trucks and announced they have hauled more than 1 billion tons of materials. Komatsu followed this announcement with their own, stating they have reached the 2 billion ton mark.  

The most recent upgrades to these automated vehicles are focused on worker safety. While the vehicles increase worker safety by decreasing human-machine interaction, there are other dangerous situations that might come into play, for example, a machine/human worker collision. 

Camera-based interference will now allow these vehicles to get an advanced look at their environment. Collision detection can stop a vehicle before it comes into the path of a human worker. And because these vehicles have already been moving and learning for nearly 10 years, their algorithms are only getting smarter.

Recently, startup SafeAI emerged with a $5 million funding announcement. The company's focus is on autonomous vehicle technology, designed and built specifically for heavy equipment used in the mining and construction industries. It is their hope that correctly applying automation and artificial intelligence will make work sites safer and increase efficiencies and boost productivity.

“We have seen and experienced deploying autonomous mining truck in production for last 10 years,” explained SafeAI Founder and CEO, Bibhrajit Halder to Tech Crunch. “Now it’s time to take it to next level. At SafeAI, we are super excited to built the future of autonomous mine by creating autonomous mining equipment that just works.”

Download Center

  • Safety Metrics Guide

    Is your company leveraging its safety data and analytics to maintain a safe workplace? With so much data available, where do you start? This downloadable guide will give you insight on helpful key performance indicators (KPIs) you should track for your safety program.

  • Job Hazard Analysis Guide

    This guide includes details on how to conduct a thorough Job Hazard Analysis, and it's based directly on an OSHA publication for conducting JHAs. Learn how to identify potential hazards associated with each task of a job and set controls to mitigate hazard risks.

  • A Guide to Practicing “New Safety”

    Learn from safety professionals from around the world as they share their perspectives on various “new views” of safety, including Safety Differently, Safety-II, No Safety, Human and Organizational Performance (HOP), Resilience Engineering, and more in this helpful guide.

  • Lone Worker Safety Guide

    As organizations digitalize and remote operations become more commonplace, the number of lone workers is on the rise. These employees are at increased risk for unaddressed workplace accidents or emergencies. This guide was created to help employers better understand common lone worker risks and solutions for lone worker risk mitigation and incident prevention.

  • EHS Software Buyer's Guide

    Learn the keys to staying organized, staying sharp, and staying one step ahead on all things safety. This buyer’s guide is designed for you to use in your search for the safety management solution that best suits your company’s needs.

  • Vector Solutions

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - June 2022

    June 2022


      Corporate Safety Culture Is Workplace Culture
      Keeping Workers Safe from Heat-Related Illnesses & Injuries
      Should Employers Consider Oral Fluid Drug Testing?
      Addressing Physical Differences
    View This Issue