Integrated Sensing Systems for Surface Mining Safety (MINESYS)


The objective of this research project is to develop and deploy an integrated safety system to help reduce equipment-related fatal and non-fatal injuries in US surface mining operations. Specific aims in this project were to (i) design a sensor network system geared towards surface mining safety; (ii) establish an infrastructure communication platform for real-time situational awareness; (iii) develop a non-distractive graphical user interface (GUI) for equipment operators/drivers; and (iv) educate and train a new generation of professionals who will be working on surface mining safety research (e.g. capacity building).


The following contributions have been made thus far.

I.             Sensing systems

  1. Proximity warning

(i)           A zone-based proximity warning system was designed using low power IEEE 802.15.4 radios for detecting obstacles and vehicles at much smaller distances (< 10m), and marking them into zones around the vehicle.



(ii)         For timely warning about approaching vehicles at large distances (10-50m), a GPS system was integrated with Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11a/b/p) radios in an ad-hoc mode. The use of a peer to peer ad-hoc mode avoids the need for centralized network infrastructure such as cellular systems and instead information about approaching vehicles is known as soon as they come into communication range of each other.



  1. Fatigue monitoring

(i)           A novel fatigue monitoring system was designed using light-weight, commercially available brain sensing headbands (specifically, MUSE). Using this headband, blinks can be accurately determined, which can then be converted to PERCLOS and fatigue detection



II.            Communication systems

(i)           To support the wi-fi based GPS warning system, a communication range test was performed in an actual surface mine setting to characterize the distances at which warning can be reliably received using each of the IEEE 802.11 family of radios.

(ii)         A cloud-based logging framework (named MapMyTruck) was designed that can be used for long term data collection from GPS and other sensors, thus improving surface mine safety.




III.          Non distractive Graphical user interface

(i)           A unified GUI was developed for the integration and meaningful presentation of the information acquired from the different sensor network components.



(ii)         The GUI was built with a novel dynamic marker capability that allows drivers to tag observed road conditions at run time on the GUI and then advertise this to other drivers using an ad-hoc WiFi network.

(iii)       An automated GUI evaluation tool was developed using a camera based driver activity monitoring system that analyzes distractions experienced by a driver, especially with respect to usage of consoles and GUI during operation.




Much of the data for developing and testing these prototype systems was done in collaboration in an actual surface mine setting. Multiple graduate students were provided interdisciplinary education and hands-on training.


Collaborators: Vlad Kecojevic (Mining Engineering, PI), Ashish Nimbarte (Industrial Engineering)