Groundhog knee deep in mine muck.2D mine map produced by Groundhog.3D mine map snapshot produced by Groundhog.Ferret1 deployed into the Mellon Institute void.Second generation Ferret with higher power laser range finder.Ferret2 scan of a limestone mine after a domeout, Kansas City, Kansas.Borehole deployable, inflatable mobile robot concept.
A System for Volumetric Robotic Mapping of Underground Mines
A Case Study in Robotic Mapping of Abandoned Mines
Extended Abstract (Word Doc)
Case Studies of a Borehole Deployable Robot for Limestone Mine Profiling and Mapping
Press Coverage
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A Case Study in Robotic Mapping of Abandoned Mines

Mining operations depend on current, accurate maps of the active mine and adjacent mine works to limit the risk of encroachment and breeching. Adjacent mines, however, may be decades or centuries old with missing, inaccurate, or ambiguous maps. Dangers such as flooding, roof-fall, rotten support timbers, and poor ventilation preclude human entry to survey these spaces. Remote mapping techniques such as ground penetrating radar and thermal imaging rely on geophysical models and assumptions to statistically infer the existence of underground voids. Only robots may enter and directly observe these otherwise inaccessible underground spaces, providing incontrovertible evidence of the mine’s existence and extent.

This paper presents a mobile robot, dubbed Groundhog, capable of navigating through and acquiring maps of abandoned mines. Groundhog addresses a number of common challenges in locomotion, communication and navigation. Coalmines are generally dark and damp, with low ceilings and miles of densely networked corridors. The surrounding geology is visually featureless and its density inhibits radio communication. Coal dust and gases such as methane and hydrogen sulfide can collect in pockets to form explosion hazards. Abandoned mines may be partially or completely inundated, and accumulate a treacherous layer of sulfurous sludge over time.

Extended Abstract (Word Doc) (doc - 1.0M)
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