Automation can advance faster with more human input, conference hears

Richard Roberts

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Robin Burgess-Limerick, professor of human factors in the Mining Industry Safety and Health Centre at The University of Queensland
‘With any technology implementation you need to plan for how human systems integration will occur’

“Automation is the opportunity to make the big step change in safety and health in the [mining] industry,” an internationally recognised expert in human and machine interaction said at this week’s International Mine Safety Conference in Perth. The major threat to the industry’s key paradigm shift? Paradoxically, it was the “failure to consider people”, he said.

University of Queensland professor Robin Burgess-Limerick, who has consulted to many of the world’s largest mining companies and equipment manufacturers in between authoring more than 100 papers on human-machine interface design and related topics, agreed with other speakers at the AusIMM conference who said automation and remote control of machines was transforming industry health and safety, and economics.

Albeit mining was still at an early stage in the journey.

The CEO of a US-based heavy-industry autonomy start-up said this week only 5-10% of all operating mine haul trucks were autonomous today, perhaps 25 years into the industry’s autonomy era.

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