Virtual reality trainer for continuous miners

AMERICAN virtual reality training systems developer 5DT Inc has introduced what it is claiming to be the world’s first virtual reality continuous miner training simulator.

Richard Roberts

Developed with South African coal producer Sasol Coal, 5DT VR Coal teaches continuous miner operators how to control the machine in a way that increases productivity while maintaining high safety standards.

According to 5DT chief operating officer Jared Baer, the operator can control a miner in a virtual coal or potash mine with controls that accurately resemble those of a real machine.

Working through a series of training scenarios that vary in complexity from simplistic to highly complex, the operator wears a virtual reality head mounted display (HMD) to view the virtual mine, continuous miner and shuttle car. The HMD also allows the operator to hear the different sounds in the virtual environment. A complete training report is generated at the end of each training session.

Baer said the simulator could be used to train new operators, or to evaluate and re-train existing operators. It was also a very good research and development tool.

“New procedures may be tried in virtual reality first, prior to real-life validation,” he said.

“The simulator may also be applied as a familiarisation and induction tool, to introduce new employees, administrators and managers to the cutting edge of their industry.

“An interesting spin-off of the simulator is that it can also be used for marketing and public relations, without exposing visiting delegates to the harsh environment of a real coal mine.”

The training is believed to be adaptable to training longwall operators to use equipment such as shearers.

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