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Bill Clancey Presents Keynote Lecture at Robotic Mining Workshop in South Africa
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Bill Clancey Presents Keynote Lecture at Robotic Mining Workshop in South Africa

Bill Clancey (Chief Scientist, Human-Centered Computing, Code TI) presented an invited keynote lecture, “Model-based automation methods relevant to robotic mining,” at the AngloGold Ashanti Innovation Technology Consortium Workshop held in Johannesburg, South Africa, December 12-14, 2011. The workshop focused on developing next-generation mining techniques involving autonomous machine operations in remote and inhospitable environments. Clancey’s presentation introduced automated navigation and data gathering methods used by the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) agent-based information systems for supporting remote operations, and use of work practice simulation for designing complex human-automation interaction.

Approximately fifty international multidisciplinary researchers participated, representing corporations and government research organizations in Australia, Canada, Germany, South Africa, and the United States. Brainstorming sessions sought to define research projects enabling a “gold on tap” concept of operations. The objectives are to reduce risk and waste (e.g., dynamite endangers lives and scatters most of the gold), life support costs (e.g., cold water for air conditioning is pumped even where people are not present), and work inefficiencies (e.g., miners require ninety minutes to reach the deepest sites). The automation group focused on designing sensor arrays for equipment health management, geochemistry (“seeing” beyond the rock face), subterranean environment conditions, and human physiology and health.

BACKGROUND: AngloGold Ashanti Innovation Workshops are organized by the Virtual Consulting Institute (Mamaroneck, NY, and Perth, Australia), following work and product design methods strongly influenced by IDEO (Palo Alto) design and innovation consulting. The Consortium seeks to develop new collaborations among proven technology providers, research institutions, and entrepreneurs in a non-competitive environment promoting “open innovation.”

Robotic mining at depths greater than 3 km — with ambient temperatures of over 70o C, 100% humidity, 2,000+ seismic events per month, and limited communications — provide a useful analog for NASA’s future science and exploration operations on the moon, asteroids, and other planets.

NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: Reimbursable-in-kind travel; JSC-ARC ITA

COLLABORATORS: Mike MacFarlane (AGA Senior VP Technology & Innovation); Gideon Malherbe, Mike McDonald, and Roby Stancel (VCI)

Contact: William J. Clancey

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