In September this year, the University of Pretoria (UP) partnered up with South African mining company, Exxaro, to carry out research into applications of extended reality technologies (XR) in mining, with the goal of leveraging them to transform the industry and use them to create training, learning and safety tools and resources.
XR is a general term for all immersive virtual-physical, or human-machine-interaction technologies including AR (augmented reality), MR (mixed reality), and VR (virtual reality).
Such technologies have huge potential for mining applications and can be used to create solutions to help make mining safer as well as more sustainable both environmentally and economically, which is specifically what Exxaro and UP aim to explore. The high carbon emissions involved in mining, in a time where global warming is at a more critical stage than ever, as well as the inherent risks that come with working in mines, particularly those underground, means that solutions are urgently needed. XR could provide valuable options for solving such issues.
WHAT POTENTIAL IS THERE IN XR?
The two bodies’ research will specifically revolve around investigating the potential of mobile VR, individual VR, cave VR, full-body tracking as well as hand tracking and VR-integrated drone mapping. With the abilities of XR, miners can go into computer-generated, life-like model replicas of underground mines and operate machinery virtually, removing the risk of having to be in dangerous mining environments.
XR can also be used to simulate life-like hazardous scenarios as well as test conditions; something that can be used to give workers emergency preparedness training should they ever face a real-life disaster inside a mine.
Moreover, companies can apply XR to produce models of mines they plan on building that show the impact it will have on the environment and surrounding area to present to local communities prior to beginning construction. Not only does this make the process of consulting with communities on mine plans more streamlined and time-efficient, but it also enables companies to more easily plan mines to meet sustainability and development targets, with less manpower involved.
Are you seeking a role in the mining industry in Africa or abroad? Visit CA Mining’s Africa job board to find the most recent mining jobs in Africa and overseas.