One step closer to the autonomous mine
5G and edge computing will contribute to a higher level of automation in the mining industry. More autonomy will in turn lead to a better working environment and safer mines. – The overall purpose is to create more intelligent systems that will move the boundaries of autonomy, productivity and security in the mines, says Karl Andersson, Professor of Pervasive and Mobile Computing at Luleå University of Technology.
Right now, 5G is rolled out broadly in Sweden. 5G means faster transmission capacity and lower delays. If 5G is also combined with edge computing, ie software is deployed at the edge of a network instead of running in a traditional data center far from the end user, performance is further improved and real-time applications can be made significantly faster and more responsive.
– 5G is a radio access technology with significantly higher data rates, lower delay and lower energy consumption. 5G also creates an IT environment with improved security and the ability to share one and the same physical infrastructure. Add to that the ability to tightly integrate an edge computing environment with the 5G network. All in all, it contributes to an ever higher level of automation in the mining industry and creates conditions for an improved working environment and safety in the mine, says Karl Andersson.
– The long-term vision is the fully automated mine with no people underground where everything is controlled from a control center above ground.
The work will take place within the framework of a project whose purpose is to develop a modern edge platform and associated portfolio of edge-aware applications that can be used in the autonomous mine, such as real-time video analysis, autonomous navigation as 5G-connected drones and time-synchronized seismic sensors.
The research institute RISE is one of the partners in the project. They will implement prototypes of edge nodes, both hardware and software.
– The prototypes will be used to demonstrate the project's applications, both in the 5G test bed at Luleå University of Technology, and later in real mines, says Emil Svanberg, Project Manager at RISE.
Emil Svanberg also points out the importance of the participating parties' cooperation. RISE and the participating companies contribute with applied work, Luleå University of Technology contributes with research-based results.
– The result can be introduced as functions in the system where a strong team of application developers get the opportunity to use the system.
5G increases pace
ThingWave is another partner in the project. With the help of 5G, the company will develop new methods for data collection and thereby make mines safer, more sustainable and more efficient.
– The collaboration with Luleå University of Technology gives us the opportunity to collaborate with researchers who have top competence in, for example, AI, 5G and digitization. For a small company like us, it means we can grow and develop high-tech solutions.
Karl Andersson also confirms that picture:
– The breadth of this collaboration: a university, a research institute, four innovative small companies and two large industrial companies, guarantees that we will succeed. Together, we have extensive experience and hopefully in the long run we can spread our solutions to both participating companies and to Swedish industry in general, says Karl Andersson.