Together with the robotics and AI team at Luleå University of Technology and the technology company Algoryx, Epiroc is initiating the ReNAM project to push the development of autonomous mining even further. The project will utilise simulations and apply state-of-the-art research on Epiroc’s underground mining machines “to enable the next level of autonomy and safety.”
The ReNAM project will develop and validate advanced sensor technology and autonomous control technology for mining vehicles. The project has received funding from the Swedish innovation agency Vinnova and will run from 2023 to the end of 2025.
“Through this partnership, we are contributing to a new generation of machines with improved autonomy capabilities. This is an exciting addition to the on-going development of our automation offering, which helps to further improve safety and productivity for our customers” says Åsa Gabrielsson, VP Research & Development at Epiroc’s Underground division.
As a first step, realistic digital twins of mining machines and surroundings will be modelled in a physics-based simulation environment. Once the sensor- and AI-equipped virtual mining machines have been developed to the point where they can solve tasks safely and reliably in the digitally simulated environment, the next step is to transfer the developed control systems to Epiroc’s mining machine and have it perform the same tasks in a real, physical test mine.
“Through realistic simulations and with safety in mind, where the AI can be trained on the whole system, the machine that is, with its environment and real forces, contacts and behaviours, the outcome will be superior to most projects we see in the world. In order to be successful, collaboration between universities, high-tech, and industrial companies is extremely important,” says Urban Wikman, Business Director at Algoryx.
“We are doing so much more than autonomy, essentially, we are accelerating machines to a new level of technology. The overall quality of Swedish mines, efficiency and safety will be unparalleled,” says George Nikolakopoulos, Chair Professor of Robotics and AI, at Luleå University of Technology.
The goal of the project is to develop and validate two use cases that can lay a foundation for future robotics research and contribute to Epiroc’s future development of commercial products with fully developed machine autonomy.