Autonomous Tramming System for Open Pit Drilling Platforms

CIM Montreal 2003
Paul Cohen,
Abstract Automation of surface drilling machines as used in open pit mining and constructions is currently on demand for keeping minimal the human presence on the hazardous site. Precise localization by means of GPS (global positioning system) provides the necessary basis for high precision guidance of the machine. The GPS-based system for manual control of the surface drills has become recently commercially available. Skid steering is the most popular steering mechanism for surface drills. Instead its simple manual usage skid-steering involves complicated ground/track interactions, making the fully autonomous guidance of such vehicles very challenging.

This paper describes the autonomous navigation system that uses differential GPS in RTK (real time kinematics) mode and ensures the high quality path-tracking control of the vehicle. The system provides the tools for mission specification, motion control and supervision with the following characteristics:
(1) a remotely located operator, through an appropriate human machine interface, specifies the via-points for a mission that typically involves a long-range tramming to a work-site location, worksite pattern navigation and return to a starting location,
(2) the worksite pattern navigation contains several stops at the specified locations (drilling points) with particular positioning accuracy required at these points,
(3) planning module generates the path through the specified via-points and drilling-points with appropriate velocity profile,
(4) sensing module provides vehicle position/heading based on odometry, inertial (azimuth gyro) and GPS data,
(5) on-board control module ensures the motion along the path with integrated obstacle detection capability,
(6) operator is able to monitor the motion and overall mission through the human machine interface.

The system is currently implemented on board of a robotic platform and successfully tested outdoor. The centimeter level accuracy, obstacle detection capability, robustness with respect to the loss of GPS signals have been demonstrated.
Keywords: Autonomous, GPS, localization, path-tracking, fusion, Gyro, Navigation
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