Centre for mine automation to be established

Monday, 09 July, 2007

Rio Tinto has announced major funding for one of the world's largest civilian robotics research centres, a centre for mining automation, which will be based at The University of Sydney.

The Centre for Mine Automation, which will be led by Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte, will be based at the University's Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR) with the aim of developing and implementing the vision of fully autonomous and remotely operated mining processes.

"The new centre will allow us to realise a long-held vision for developing and applying robotics and autonomous systems research in mining. The work of the centre will have a major impact on the economic and social well-being of Australia, where mining continues to play a major role," Professor Durrant-Whyte said.

"To the best of our knowledge this is the single largest investment in robotics research anywhere in the world and will confirm the position of ACFR as one of the world's leading robotics research institutes."

"By developing technology, research and training in mine automation, Rio Tinto expects to add value to its existing mine operations, to deliver a long-term competitive advantage, and to increase knowledge of new systems within the Group's operations," Rio Tinto's head of technology and innovation, Dr Grant Thorne said.

"The centre aims to provide a substantial improvement in safety, predictability, precision and efficiency of mining through the development of automation and remote operation across mining systems."

The centre is expected to operate for five to 10 years. A technical management group, including representatives from Rio Tinto and the University of Sydney, will guide strategic direction and monitor the centre's performance in the research.

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