Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Mining Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Zach Agioutantis


In recent years, autonomous solutions in the multi-disciplinary field of the mining engineering have been an extremely popular applied research topic. The growing demand for mineral supplies combined with the steady decline in the available surface reserves has driven the mining industry to mine deeper underground deposits. These deposits are difficult to access, and the environment may be hazardous to mine personnel (e.g., increased heat, difficult ventilation conditions, etc.). Moreover, current mining methods expose the miners to numerous occupational hazards such as working in the proximity of heavy mining equipment, possible roof falls, as well as noise and dust. As a result, the mining industry, in its efforts to modernize and advance its methods and techniques, is one of the many industries that has turned to autonomous systems. Vehicle automation in such complex working environments can play a critical role in improving worker safety and mine productivity.

One of the most time-consuming tasks of the mining cycle is the transportation of the extracted ore from the face to the main haulage facility or to surface processing facilities. Although conveyor belts have long been the autonomous transportation means of choice, there are still many cases where a discrete transportation system is needed to transport materials from the face to the main haulage system.

The current dissertation presents the development of a navigation system for an autonomous shuttle car (ASC) in underground room and pillar coal mines. By introducing autonomous shuttle cars, the operator can be relocated from the dusty, noisy, and potentially dangerous environment of the underground mine to the safer location of a control room. This dissertation focuses on the development and testing of an autonomous navigation system for an underground room and pillar coal mine.

A simplified relative localization system which determines the location of the vehicle relatively to salient features derived from on-board 2D LiDAR scans was developed for a semi-autonomous laboratory-scale shuttle car prototype. This simplified relative localization system is heavily dependent on and at the same time leverages the room and pillar geometry. Instead of keeping track of a global position of the vehicle relatively to a fixed coordinates frame, the proposed custom localization technique requires information regarding only the immediate surroundings. The followed approach enables the prototype to navigate around the pillars in real-time using a deterministic Finite-State Machine which models the behavior of the vehicle in the room and pillar mine with only a few states. Also, a user centered GUI has been developed that allows for a human user to control and monitor the autonomous vehicle by implementing the proposed navigation system.

Experimental tests have been conducted in a mock mine in order to evaluate the performance of the developed system. A number of different scenarios simulating common missions that a shuttle car needs to undertake in a room and pillar mine. The results show a minimum success ratio of 70%.

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