NIOSH’s Office of Mine Safety and Health Research is seeking proposals for practical robotics technologies that mining companies can use to support self-escape or mine-rescue efforts.
“When the lives of mine workers are in danger, it is critical that mine emergency response systems are in place and able to function quickly and effectively,” the agency said. “Such technologies would assist in improving emergency response to mine disasters.”
NIOSH said it is interested in proposals on robotics technologies or systems that can improve self-escape and rescue efforts, including, but not limited to, those that are:
- Able to be lowered through the boreholes and then navigated through the mine, providing visual and atmospheric information to the operator on the surface.
- Able to explore several thousand feet ahead of the rescue teams and provide visual and atmospheric information to the rescue team members following behind the advancement of the robot.
- Able to remove injured miners or carry heavy loads into and out of the mine for the rescue teams on a fully or semi-autonomous basis.
In addition, the robotics systems should be designed so that the electronics and other components on the robot do not introduce the possibility of an ignition if they encounter an explosive environment, the agency said.
“The proposed solution to this particular issue can be either a general solution, applicable to any technologies or incorporated with a solution to one of the three topic areas described previously,” NIOSH explained.
Details about the solicitation are available on FedBizOpps.gov, under solicitation number 2014-N-15806. Submissions must be received by May 14, 2014.