“These are multi-million-dollar drills, so you want to be able to keep them going to make full use of the asset,” Marcel said.
As more and more trucks and drills are becoming autonomous, it is becoming more important to keep operators away from these tasks.
The robot does all the hard work. It scans the surrounds to ensure there are no hazards, and then scans for the filling point on the drill rig. The robot then extends out the water boom, and once connected, the water is pumped.
Aside from the obvious fitting of the robot to the water truck, retrofitting the drill to enable the system’s smooth operation is relatively minor, with only a modification to the filling point.
In the cabin of the truck there is an HMI screen which enables the driver to view the process and see what the robot sees, via a series of cameras mounted to the unit.
The Lewis team have thought about everything, even down to the vibration isolation mounts. The robot base and electronic system are then attached to it. This protects it from the impacts of driving around the rough terrain of a mine site. The mount itself uses low frequency springs and then inside the electrical cabinet there are extra high frequency vibration mounts, so this enables the full spectrum of vibration to be accounted for.
The robot controllers are mounted inside a secondary box which is dual layered and air conditioned to protect against the dust and heat.
“We have special equipment that can deal with that sort of environment,” Marcel said.
“It’s a cost that no one sees but it will make sure the product lasts and can withstand the harsh conditions it operates under.”
Testing for these conditions was conducted in real-world settings, enlisting the site operators as well as gyroscopes and accelerometers for data collection. This would ensure the robot could withstand the vibration, G-Forces, heat and other environmental conditions compatible with what the robot would be subjected to in day-to-day operations.
Now, the system is being recalibrated to explore its application for use in fuel delivery and customers the world over have their eyes fixed on Lewis Australia to see what’s next in this space.