Coal Age

SEP 2017

Coal Age Magazine - For more than 100 years, Coal Age has been the magazine that readers can trust for guidance and insight on this important industry.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 25 of 51

24 September 2017 collision avoidance Saving Lives on the Path to Automation Collision warning systems, however austere, can put a miner on the path to greater automation by jesse morton, technical writer There is a balancing act when it comes to delivering informa- tion. The suppliers that sell proximity detection systems in the mining sector are onto this, and the best-selling systems can be succinctly described as "simple." While the components may be stunningly space-age, even satellite-based, the information the operator gets is often as sparse as it is fast. As Fabien Krit- ter, product manager, safety and autonomous solutions, Hexa- gon Mining, put it, it should instantly answer one and only one question. "Where is the other vehicle? Should I look on the right? Should I look at the left? Where should I look?" Nonetheless, al- most paradoxically, the same proximity detection systems are often designed with a series of graduating upgrades in mind, in anticipation of the miner ultimately desiring eventual full auto- mation. So, while today they are designed to save lives, they are also designed to someday fit into a bigger system where lives are no longer threatened at all. This sharp duality is illustrated in a handful of systems reviewed below. Hexagon's CAS and VIS Hexagon Mining unveiled the Vehicle Intervention System (VIS), the latest addition to its SafeMine Safety Suite, at MINExpo last Sep- tember. To summarize, VIS does some automatic braking to prevent collisions and other incidents, Kritter said. VIS is now proven tech- nology, he said, that was tested "in the field in an operational envi- ronment." The system represents an additional layer of safety be- yond that provided by the suite's Collision Avoidance System (CAS). CAS is Hexagon's base proximity detection offering. It is a GPS- and radio frequency (RF)-based system, reputed for its ease of use and quick-install feature, Kritter said. "The system has a proven record of saving lives," he said. That record spans the de- cade the system has been offered, he added. "We were the first to implement collision avoidance based on GPS in the mining industry," he said. The system, Kritter said, provides two basic benefits. "First, it is traffic awareness, telling the operator about his surroundings," he said. "The second layer of safety is to provide an alarm if there is any risk identified by the system, giving the operators sufficient time to react." One of the primary selling points of CAS is the simplicity. The system is housed in a small black box with a glossy face that is in- stalled somewhere in the equipment operator's field of view. Fea- tured prominently on the face is a circle of unlit LED lights. That circle represents the general area of the operator, and the size of that area is customized upon installation based on vehicle type. The operator is understood to be at the center of the circle. Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) Satellite positioning and peer-to-peer RF communication instantaneously tell the system when, for example, an equipped vehicle is moving with- in range. That lights up one of the LEDs, indicating where that vehicle is in relation to the operator. "It will be expressed by a green LED on the display, which indicates the direction of the approaching vehicle," Kritter said. "As it comes closer, it turns or- ange. When it comes very close, it turns red." The system is silent until it detects a possible collision. That prompts a blinking red light and a series of shrill beeps. "You can actually prioritize the alarm for only the most dangerous situa- tions," Kritter said. This functionality, dubbed the Dynamic Safety Zone, calcu- lates more than simple distance. The system computes the tra- jectory and speed of oncoming equipped vehicles to arrive at a prediction regarding the possibility of an incident. "We do a pro- jection into the future on where the vehicle will be," Kritter said. "Taking into consideration different parameters, we assess the situation for the actual risk of collision." This is done instantly and by the onboard compact process- ing unit, the black box. "The challenge is to get an alarm only when it is needed, to have as precise as possible predictions, and to get the alarm when it is needed and only when it is needed," Kritter said. "Edge computing is the key." This means there is no buffering or lag between real-time events and what the system tells the driver. Thus, "the calculation is taking place in each ve- hicle," he said. "It is really a peer-to-peer communication and ex- change locally between vehicles." Therein lies the purpose of the design of the system. It cuts unnecessary alarms. And it only goes off when immediate action is necessary. "All the rest is distraction," Kritter said. "There are a lot of systems that provide a lot of distractions to the operator. He needs to drive the vehicle, not look at the display." CAS requires no preexisting communications infrastructure. Radar systems can be added and integrated. "The information is integrated on the same display, so, you have one single display for the operator and do not confuse him," Kritter said. 'We are providing quick information to the operator, and we have sounds on top of visual alerts,' says Fabien Kritter, product manager, Hexagon Mining. Above, the Collision Avoidance System lights up. (Photo: Hexagon)

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Coal Age - SEP 2017