In March, the R&D team in charge of installing autonomous navigation in a LHD vehicle began a critical stage of their work, in which the system designed to make the aforementioned machine drive through underground mining galleries without a human operator will be put to the test.
At a facility of Ecaval in the area of Lampa a simulation of an underground gallery was built. In it, the test-LHD runs through it with a human driver in order to calibrate sensors, and then it will repeat the run-trough, only this time with no one at the steering wheel. The goal, of course, is to make the vehicle able to move through the gallery only with the information gathered by the two lasers and two radars mounted on its body and the internal sensor of the machine.
The trial run is being conducted by researchers Paul Vallejos (project leader) and Isao Parra.
The test gallery is a straight 100 meters street, 4 to 4.5 meters wide, leading to a 20 meters diameter turnaround. The LHD was lent by German company GHH, which is also the industrial associate in this project.
It is expected that by the end of March the LHD will move through the complete circuit with total autonomy, which will validate the work done so far and will open the doors to future developments.