Underground » Communications
This project was prompted by the outcomes of Task Group 4, which was concerned with managing the risk in the mine emergency response following an underground accident at Moura in 1994. Task Group 4 identified that an emergency mine communications system is required to support escape and rescue. In particular, a system is required to communicate escape routes to underground staff, monitor their locations, support mine recovery, operate independently of mine power and survive failures in sections of a mine.
Given that the above-mentioned requirements cannot be met by existing systems, the project team conceived, patented, developed and demonstrated new technology to support escape and rescue in underground coal mines. A driving technical requirement is survivability which is unique to managing mine emergency incidents. This has led the development of a radically new communications architecture and protocol, which is quite unlike any existing systems. Survivability is attained at the expense of bandwidth. Consequently low bandwidth (safety) applications are supported such as paging, messaging, personnel location, mine sensor and status monitoring.
The Location And Monitoring for Personal Safety (LAMPS) system includes three types of components: personal transponders, network beacons and control / monitoring. Personal transponders will be worn by staff and routinely transmit vital signs data together with a unique identification number. The transponders can also receive short messages such as emergency instructions. A survivable network of standalone, wireless beacons will provide staff location information and bi-directional communication through to a control / monitoring facility.
The prototype hardware, firmware and software for the transponder, beacon, vital signs and control/monitoring functions have been developed. A demonstration has recently been provided in a metaliferous mine. The requisite exemptions are being solicited so that the LAMPS prototypes can similarly be demonstrated within coal mines. The design details are disclosed in a set of accompanying documents to effect the follow-on technology transfer. A subsequent project will be concerned with, among other things, migrating the LAMPS designs to IS versions and commercialising the developed technology.
The developed LAMPS technology is not limited to safety applications. It provides a survivable infrastructure for bi-directional, wireless communication between underground and the surface. Although LAMPS is intended for monitoring the location of underground staff and sending messages to them, it is equally applicable to location and sensor monitoring of underground equipment. The network beacons and personal transponders may also be used for wireless monitoring applications within open pits, since they satisfy the requirements of the LIPD Class License specified by the ACA.