Transcript source

[Music plays, a computerised image appears of a miner in a mining machine that is digging down below the ground]

Narrator:  Australia has a long and profitable history of digging stuff up.  We’re very good at it.  But it’s still a very dangerous activity.  The less humans we can stick underground, the better.  About 90% of underground coal mining uses a process called longwall. 

[Text appears on screen:  90% longwall]

[Image changes to show an increasing currency value] 

It contributes $7 billion to Australia’s export income every year.

[Image changes to show a computerised image of a shearer machine working underground] 

Miners carefully drive a machine with large rotating cutting drums back and forth across a coal seam.  With each pass a massive slice of coal is ground off.  It falls onto a conveyor belt and is transported away from the coalface.  It’s a great technique, but it puts workers in one of the most dangerous places in the mine – underneath a roof supported by hydraulic jacks.

[Image changes to show a computerised image of a miner working underground, and looking up towards a supported roof] 

So we figured out how to automate it and created the LASC, Longwall Automation System.

[Text appears on screen:  LASC] 

It automatically guides the shearer along the coal seam wall, tracking its position in three dimensions.

[Image changes to show a computerised image of a shearer machine and varying co-ordinates appear to the left of the screen] 

With no access to GPS underground it’s instead guided with an evolved form of inertial navigation, usually used for ballistic missiles.

[Image changes to show a computerised image of a miner standing at a control panel] 

It can be controlled from the top of the mine, or from the other side of the planet.

[Text appears on screen:  two thirds] 

Two-thirds of longwall coal mines in Australia now use this technology.  It’s not only led to a far safer working environment, efficiency has increased by up to 10%.

[Text appears on screen:  far safer; more efficient up to 10%] 

And now it’s been commercialised for global companies.

[Image changes to show a computerised image of a globe] 

So we can continue digging stuff up, and do it a lot safer.

[CSIRO logo appears with text: Big ideas start here www.csiro.au]

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