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§ 4.8.3 Teleoperation and Automation for Mining

Mining is the most demanding application of automation and teleoperation.

Underground mines on Earth often require remote controlled equipment due to safety requirements and harsh conditions. Because of increasing safety standards in many countries, it has been suggested in studies by terrestrial equipment manufacturers that most terrestrial surface mining projects in the future could also be performed by remote control. Many already are.

Excavation and hauling operations on the Moon can be automated and teleoperated with remote control computers and personnel on Earth, since the communications round trip delay time is just 2.5 seconds. Experiments using college students showed that it takes a little while to get the hang of the 2.5 second delay, but after a short time people learn how to master the situation.

For asteroids, since round trip communications times could be on the order of minutes, there would need to be a high degree of automation, or else someone would need to be on-site for quick interactive tasks, in addition to maintenance and troubleshooting.

Both lunar and asteroidal mining missions will need someone on-site, as it's highly unlikely that any company would spend money on a mining venture without sending one or two people out with the equipment for unforseen troubleshooting and maintenance needs. These people can also serve as teleoperators.

As one NASA report on lunar mining puts it: "The haulers can undoubtedly be designed to operate in automatic mode, only requiring occasional reprogramming. Prior to mining, orbital photographs would document the topology in great detail. A family of haul roads would be selected and stored in each hauler's on-board computer memory. Using inertial guidance, radar, laser ranging, electronic guideposts, satellite tracking, or a combination thereof, the hauler could navigate back and forth from the mine according to a programmed sequence. Earth-based personnel would monitor the performance of the haulers and would have the capability to switch to remote control if necessary. The haulers could also be either remotely or manually controlled on the lunar surface."

The above is readily attainable with present day technology. In fact, popular childrens' toys have been sold which follow a number of programmed paths, and artificial intelligence has handled more complex problems.

All this would require a relatively small mass of electronic and communications equipment placed on the Moon. The lunar communications receiver, amplifier, transponder network and computer systems would be relatively lightweight. > Manufacturing, Industry > Robotics > Mining Robotics


PERMANENT needs a PHP / MySQL (actually, MariaDB) programmer. Are you a PHP / MySQL programmer interested in getting into space development as a career, or already working in space development? Or do you know somebody else who might be interested?

There is an ongoing process to update this website in 2019 with a target relaunch in 2020.
This website is actually very out of date. Much of the website text content was written in the 1980s to early 2000s, but that's a different matter. As regards PHP / MySQL, some offline databases go into the 2010s, as regards professional publications, engineers, companies, etc., and this is what we need programming help with. We are updating our databases on people, organizations, publications, and other things, for open source space development for all.

The current status is we have some working databases which we have been using internally for a long time for organizing professional publications, and to track people (authors, R&D people, other professionals, quality volunteers, journalists, etc.) and organizations. We want to put information online for the general public pending a security review of the programming code.

Step 1 is fixing some bugs in what we already have, the PHP code. It is functional, and been used a long time, but there are some bugs.
Step 2 will be improving the system. Some small improvements would help its usability.
Step 3 will be a security check for putting it online for the general public to be able to access and use, but with reasonable protection against hackers.
After Step 3, the main mission is accomplished, as regards PHP / MySQL, though of course we hope to keep people engaged and happy, and the sky's not the limit.

This is a volunteer, unpaid role at this point in time. A limited paid role would be considered on a tight budget, such as for at least bug fixing with some minor improvements, and/or a security review of our code before it goes online publicly. If you or one of your friends or associates may be interested, please send an email to spaceprogrammer at ... of course this domain.

Reasons to do something yourself:

  • It will help save life on our special planet -- be part of the solution in your generation.
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  • It could be an interesting, cool, and a fun adventure for your life!

You can join us and volunteer to help out,

... or ...

If you're short on time, you can just donate:

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If you would like to make a quick donation to our humanistic cause,
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