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.
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Site | Robots | Groundhog | Motivation
Motivation
One of the nine miners being after being extracted from the Quecreek mine.The Accident

The primary motivation for the formation of the 2002 MRD class was the Quecreek-Saxman mining accident. Miners in Somerset, Pennsylvania working in the Quecreek mine accidentally dug into the neighboring, abandonded, flooded Saxman mine. The estimated 50 million gallons of water contained in the Saxman mine flooded into the Quecreek mine, trapping nine of the eighteen miners for three days. The primary cause of this accident was the outdated map of the abandonded Saxman mine which was used to determine the safe working areas of the new Quecreek mine.

The Breach

The logical target for the classes effort was to map the breach between the two mines and further explore into the abandonded Saxman mine. The class put forward a proposal to map the breach to the relevant authorities, and we were given what little information was known about the breach:

  • 6 foot wide by 4 foot high
  • Breach floor 1 foot higher than Quecreek or Saxman floor
  • Breach approximately 4 foot long
  • Muddy conditions on both sides

One final constraint was that the investigation of the accident was scheduled to end within a month, at which time the breach would be permenatly sealed, precluding access of any kind.

The class set out to produce a robot capable of meeting these constraints. That robot is Groundhog.

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