International news within the industry of mining and metal, Dec, 17 2018
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Secure visit in the mine with VR-glasses

Wherever you are in the world, you can go down to the virtual underground mine created by researchers at the Luleå University of Technology. Photo: License Creative Commons-Source Luleå University of Technology
Wherever you are in the world, you can go down to the virtual underground mine created by researchers at the Luleå University of Technology. Photo: License Creative Commons-Source Luleå University of Technology
Published by
Markku Björkman - 10 Oct 2018

Wherever you are in the world, you can go down to the virtual underground mine with the device created by researchers at the Luleå University of Technology. The experience takes you a thousand feet below ground and you can move independently between the shaft and the hallways.

The virtual mining environment has been developed in collaboration between university researchers in mining and rock technology and visual design - the latter usually work against international computer game and cinema companies.

- This is one of the most comprehensive VR environments we have made and it is unique in its kind. We provide a virtual mine with all ingredients, which gives a complete mine experience that is really good. We create something really good and visually exciting, "says Håkan Vallin, visual imaging researcher at the Luleå University of Technology.

One of the tasks of the SIMS mining technology project (more about SIMS at the bottom of this text) is to disseminate knowledge about the future mining system that should be sustainable and intelligent, which may mean fewer people underground and more automation when drilling, loading, blasting and loading.

With the new VR mine, not only can you demonstrate and communicate new high tech solutions and a safer working environment, but also show the public what a mine actually looks like - now and in the future.

With VR glasses on the nose and controls in the hands, the virtual visitor can move in the mine above ground, at the main level of these service functions, but also at the actual production level. It is at the level of the mine where you drill, blow up, load, scrap, load and reinforce mountains - a place few visitors have the opportunity to experience in reality.

- The VR mine will give the visitors a sense of presence. We are not looking for accuracy, but it should be credible. Geologically, it will feel like there's actually a mine. We did study visits in LKAB's mine in Malmberget, where we looked at dimensions, textures, fasteners, fan systems and various details. Man notes and footers say Håkan Vallin.

The structure of the rock wall, detail and height and shape has been worked out through frequent meetings between researchers and the mining industry; artists and mountain mechanics.

"We have not built up a whole mine, but an optimal mine from the viewpoint of education and teaching, and we have met the wishes of being able to ride a lift into the mine, that there should be a dressing room where you wear work clothes and protective equipment and a control room with so many and so many displays, "says Håkan Vallin.

In the future, the VR mine will be further developed, including interactions and multi-user functionality.

"I am most pleased that everyone in the project is so pleased with the result and visual quality we have received thanks to the cross-disciplinary cooperation we have had. We can build VR environments, but it is important to get the right information, to concretize and to expand and limit where you have to, "says Håkan Vallin.

The VR environment will be available via the SIMS website www.simsmining.eu.

Facts: SIMS stands for Sustainable Intelligent Mining Systems and is a major research and development project funded by EU Horizon 2020 focusing on tomorrow's mining technology focusing on sustainability and security. The Luleå University of Technology participates, as the only Swedish university institution, and the total budget goes close to SEK 37 million to the Luleå University of Technology, for research, development and innovation of intelligent mining systems. The total budget is SEK 168 million.

The Luleå University of Technology is Scandinavia's northernmost technical university with world-class research and education.