Evaluating Ease of Traversing by an Agile Legged Robot in Underground Environment for Miner Self-Escape

This summer, as part of Missouri University of Science & Technology’s (S&T’s) Summer Engineering Research Academy, Ms. Demetrice Parks of Fort Valley State University joined our research group as an intern. Demetrice took on the task of testing our Boston Dynamics Spot robot to evaluate whether there are differences in the speed of traversing in various common mining ground conditions. She also evaluated the effect of lighting conditions on the traverse times.

Ms. Demetrice Parks with Spot at Missouri S&T Experimental Mine

We have been working as part of a larger project funded by CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health to evaluate robotic assistance for miner self-escape. Our work is designed to make mining safer and to facilitate safe and effective self-escape by miners. Demetrice’s work is a preliminary step towards developing algorithms for Spot to autonomously explore underground mines to facilitate self-escape. She tested dirt (original surface), mud, and gravel in low and high lighting conditions to evaluate differences in travel times. The video below shows one of her tests (check out our YouTube channel for more videos of her tests).

Demetrice concluded that ground conditions make a difference (see her research poster below) while lighting conditions (within the range we tested) did not make a difference.

It was a pleasure working with Ms. Parks over the summer. We wish her the best as she works towards her degree and look forward to the amazing things she will accomplish in her career.

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