Kidd Creek Mine is an ultra-deep mine in northern Ontario, Canada. We mine metal, copper, zinc, silver, and it’s one of the deepest in the world. It features large openings that need to be inspected on a regular basis.
When it comes to this type of mining, the most important control that we have is to create distance, so everything we do here has to be at some kind of distance from hazards. So in this particular case, we’re looking at inspection and inspection is something we have to do every day as part of our job.
Typically, we have to go to fairly great lengths to do inspections. So, right now that means using very traditional styles of robots. Even wheels on sticks, as primitive as that may sound, that’s common in the industry. Tools like this can get us right up and close and personal with the things we need to see.
Currently, when we’re trying to get information in these type of locations we use small tracked robots that we can carry around easily as part of our normal work, and we need to ask a lot of our operators to come through here and clean the areas, clean the floors, and so on so that they can get in. What I’ve seen with Boston Dynamics’ Spot legged robot is that it’s been able to pass anything that is normally left, without any real special care to make it accessible.
Benefits of Spot & legged robots
I actually found out about Spot through some people that I work with down in Sudbury, a group that specializes in technology underground, things like drones and remote exploration and that’s what led us to this point where we are testing Spot underground.
I was quite impressed to see how it can handle different types of terrain. We have a fleet of tracked and traditional wheeled robots that we use underground, but there is nothing that compares to the way that Spot steps or moves around objects and loose ground and other types of material.
I see a really big advantage when it comes to Spot and that’s the distance and duration that we can take on with it. So that means that we can put our people very far away from a hazard, and we can get in and get the information that we need.
When it comes to engineering-driven mining like we do, it’s really based on data. It’s driven by our ability to get information on a regular basis and turn it around so that we can make good decisions based on that information. Having a tool that can quickly, reliably get into everywhere that we need to get information and bring it back to us is invaluable to our business.
To see more use cases about mobile robots, check out the Mobile Robot Guide‘s Case Study section.
About the Author
Iain McKillip is manager of mine technical services at Kidd Operations.